Health, environmental advocates worried over possible new ownership of Edwards' coal plant

By Mark Bullion

September 16, 2013 Updated Sep 16, 2013 at 7:39 PM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Breathing in clean air is something many people probably don't even think about, but come Tuesday, the Illinois Pollution Control Board will in a public hearing.

A Houston based company is trying to delay its adherence to Illinois' Multi-Pollutant Standard law if it takes over the Edwards' coal fired power plant.

The move has many health and environmental advocates up in arms.

"We actually are in a non compliant area right now where our air is the most polluted in Illinois and people aren't aware of this," said concerned resident Robin Garlish.

Around a dozen people with various organizations gathered outside the Peoria Civic Center Monday morning expressing concern over Dynegy Energy's plan, one activists say would give Dynegy free reign over polluting central Illinois' air and water until 2020.

"The air pollution from the plant accounts for over 100 asthma attacks a year and just about seven premature deaths," said Sierra Club's Kady McFadden.

Now The Sierra Club and others are taking their free reign to Springfield with 8,000 signatures opposing Dynegy's plan if they take over the Edwards plant.

"It's pretty awesome, it shows that people are concerned, and they are starting to step forward," said Garlish.

In a statement from Dynegy, officials say while the deal is still pending, if the extension is granted, substantial investments are expected to be made in the coming years.

If the air blows the other way, health advocates will continue the fight.

"Dirty coal is not the answer anymore," added Garlish.

Many across the entire state are expected to take part in the public hearing Tuesday morning at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency building in Springfield.

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