32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, Alderman Joe Moore (49th) and several environmental groups are urging City Council to pass the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance to protect what Waguespack calls our “environmental rights.”

The ordinance would force two of the oldest coal plants in the United States to significantly clean up their operations or face shutdown within four years of the ordinance’s passage. The Fisk and Crawford plants are located in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods and first opened in the early 1950′s. The plants are currently the target of a federal lawsuit charging emissions violate portions of the Clean Air Act.

“I co-sponsored this ordinance,” Waguespack said, “because clean air, safe water and soil that is toxin-free are part of our environmental rights. Demanding cleaner air is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. We can work with the coal plant owners on alternatives that will maintain jobs while providing cleaner air for all Chicagoans to breathe.”

Waguespack, endorsed by the Sierra Club in his re-election bid, says cleaning the environment is only a start and calls on his fellow aldermen to support improvements to Chicago’s economic health. He says now is the time to move beyond outdated energy sources and pursue the creation of new green jobs. He offers the example of Serious Materials, a company he helped attract to Chicago to take over the shuttered Republic Windows factory on Goose Island.

“Innovative thinking during the Republic Windows crisis led to a better, greener employer coming here,” Waguespack explained. “We helped bring a California company to Chicago, and as a result, we secured 300 green jobs.”

The Alderman says Chicago can be a leader in the expanding green economy and, at the same time, should tighten its policies to clean up the environment and protect its citizens. To that end, he supports improving emissions standards for diesel trucks and equipment operating in Chicago and envisions areas like the sprawling Finkl Steel site as the future hub of a variety of green-based companies.