If you have been around Chicago in the past few months, you've most likely seen ads around the city depicting a coal-burning facility emitting dark and toxic-looking smoke from its towers. The text below the image asks for people to take action to shut it down.
It seems that some success has arrived for those who did. The State Line Power Station, a large source of Chicago's air pollution, will shut down in March 2012 instead of the year 2014 according to this Chicago Tribune article
by Michael Hawthorne.
Too costly to clean
The reason for its shutdown boils down to the cost it would take to reduce the plant's mercury emissions to fit with federal and state regulations. Mercury pollution has a serious impact on respiratory or neurological health, especially in infants and children. Mercury also finds its way into the fish and shellfish we eat when mercury emissions fall into our waterways with precipitation.
According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's website
, the Clean Air Mercury Rule, passed on March 10, 2005, requires all coal-burning plants to reduce their mercury emissions 47 percent by 2010 and 79 percent by the year 2018. This is a federal regulation, however. The state of Illinois has passed even stricter regulations, requiring 90 percent mercury reduction by mid-2009. As Hawthorne explains, the State Line Power Station would have to spend millions of dollars in order to stay in accordance with the regulations, a price that the plant owner, Dominion Resources, doesn't see as worth it.
The plant will close in March 2012 instead of in the year 2014, removing Chicago's most prevalent source of air pollution.
With the expansion of wind-power facilities across Illinois, the state will not suffer a serious energy shortage with the closing of the coal-burning plant. The Illinois Wind Energy Association
explains that the wind power industry currently can generate 2,000 megawatts of energy in the state, easily replacing the 515 megawatt output of the coal plant. The IWEA sees the wind-power industry growing in the coming decades, providing even more energy and reducing dependence on dirty forms of energy.
Even before the power plant is shut down, the development of the lakefront property the facility occupies is already being discussed. There is research taking place to determine the cost and time it will take the clean up the property.