SOURCE: American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago

February 21, 2007 18:36 ET

MEDIA ALERT -- Cook County Board Today Passed 1st Pollution Tax in the Country

CHICAGO, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 21, 2007 --


     WHAT:    -- Seen as innovative municipal tool for reducing particulate
                 emissions from power plants and large polluters
              -- Expected to raise up to $7 million annually to offset Cook
                 County medical care for those suffering from lung disease
     
     WHEN:    Wednesday, February 21, Cook County Board
     
     WHY:     Scheduled to go into effect May 1, the tax would charge major
              sources of SO2 pollutant $400/ton and could generate up to $7
              million annually to help stave off cuts in Cook County
              medical services.
     
              Cook County fails to meet federal air quality standards set
              in 1997 for fine particle pollution.
     
              American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago worked with
              Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado who guided passage
              of legislation with a vote of 10- 5.
     
              Cook County Board President Stroger threatens to veto the
              bill.
Visuals/Interviews:
--  ALAMC CEO Joel Africk on effect of emissions on lung diseases and use
    of pollution tax to create cleaner environment
--  Commissioner Maldonado Proposed First Sulfur Dioxide Pollution Tax in
    Nation
--  Brian Urbaszewski explains sulfur dioxide gas forms fine particle
    sulfate pollution in the air -- a major component of deadly pollution in
    Cook County.
    
BACKGROUND

In late 2006, the State of Illinois reached agreements with major operators of older coal-fired power plants to reduce air pollution. Despite this progress, power plant sulfur dioxide reductions will not be required for all such facilities in Cook County for nearly 12 years. The extremely long timeline sparked outrage from communities living in the shadow of large smokestacks. Collectively, major sources of sulfur dioxide in Cook County have emitted over 30,000 tons annually to the air in recent years.

Maldonado's proposal was co-sponsored by Commissioners Earlean Collins, Mike Quigley and Joan Murphy and was supported by Commissioners Beavers, Butler, Daley, Murphy, Sims and Steele.

It was also strongly supported by the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago, the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Environment Illinois and many concerned citizens.

A study done at Harvard School of Public Health found air pollution from the coal-fired power plants in the Little Village and Pilsen communities of Chicago within Cook County has been directly linked to over 40 premature deaths, 2800 asthma attacks, and 550 emergency room visits every year.

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:

    Kevin Tynan
    312.628.0225
    Cell: 312.659.6884

    Meghan Mahan
    312.628.0250
    Cell: 773.209.6704