Clean Power Coalition-Southeast Wisconsin
Press Release

Impacted Neighbors of We Energies’ Coal Plant Featured in Documentary and Coal History Presentation Co-sponsored by Clean Power Coalition

January 23 Event is Free and Open to the Public.

By - Jan 20th, 2020 02:03 pm

Racine, WI, January 20, 2020 –  A free program on January 23 at 6:30 P.M. at the River Bend Nature Center will feature a premiere screening of a video produced by members of the Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin. This documentary, entitled “We Neighbors,”  focuses on the experiences of the neighbors who live near We Energies’ coal-fired South Oak Creek and Elm Road power plants. Though thirty homes surrounding the plants have been purchased and leveled, these are the neighbors who still live downwind from a 15-acre mountain of coal and in the shadow of the twin smokestacks. Some of those neighbors will participate in a panel discussion of their more recent difficulties as residents living in close proximity to the plant.

The second half of the program will feature a presentation on the history of coal in our area and on the impact of coal trains that travel through Racine by local historian and train expert, Keith Kohlmann. Mr Kohlmann, who teaches technical education in Racine and serves on the board of directors for the Racine Heritage Museum, has written over two hundred articles on trains and speaks on this topic throughout the region.

Mr. Kohlmann states, “It is good to understand today’s situation within the context that created it. The pollution lobby would like all of us to participate in historical amnesia, and ignore the evidence of a legacy of environmental damage. I can show how energy technology has changed over the last 100 years, and how it continues to change. I hope it leads to a lively discussion.” In addition to this historical context, Mr. Kohlmann will discuss the hazards of transporting coal over a thousand mile route and the problems that arise when trains pass through residential neighborhoods.

The event is cosponsored by the Sierra Club, the Eco Justice Center, the Root River Council, 350 Milwaukee, Racine Dominicans, and Greening Greater Racine, six of the more than twenty-five groups that support the coalition’s mission- to urge We Energies to retire its coal plants and adopt renewable energy.

When: Thursday, January 23, 2020, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: River Bend Nature Center, 3600 N Green Bay Rd, Racine, WI 53404

Who: Open to the public, but of special interest to anyone concerned with the health impacts of coal, especially coal plant neighbors and those who live near the route of the coal trains, affected residents, concerned parents, clean energy and climate advocates.

How: Those interested in attending may RSVP through the Background: 
Families who live near We Energies’ coal-fired Oak Creek power plants have been expressing concerns to the company for years about negative health effects they are suffering as a result of exposure to coal dust and coal ash emitted from the plants and the trains that deliver the coal. We Energies claims to have taken additional steps to contain the dust, but neighbors continue to experience dust in and around their homes. Coal contains toxic metals including lead, mercury, and arsenic. The health effects of inhalable particulate matter such as coal dust include aggravation of asthma, respiratory symptoms, an increase in hospital admissions, and increased mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer. 

Just over two years ago, the Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin offered its first public program, a screening of a film called “Cheshire, Ohio.” The film documented the struggle of residents in a small Ohio town that was purchased by American Electric Power, the company that owns and operates the nearby coal-fired utility.

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The Clean Power Coalition-Southeast Wisconsin will educate the public about the dangers of burning coal on the health of those who live and work in the vicinity of WE Energies’ South Oak Creek and Elm Road Power Plants. How we choose to generate electricity has consequences that reach far beyond the return on shareholder investment, affecting everything from public health to a stable climate. When air, water, and soil are polluted, health and life are put at risk. The Clean Power Coalition-Southeast Wisconsin will promote public debate about the appropriate source of energy for Southeastern Wisconsin. At the same time, the coalition urges WE Energies to: 1.) immediately contain the coal dust and other health hazards emanating from the Oak Creek plants, 2.) phase out its use of coal, and 3.) promote rather than obstruct the adoption of renewable energy throughout its service territory.

Clean Power Coalition convening member organizations: Eco Justice Center / Greening Greater Racine / Moms Clean Air Force / NAACP State of Wisconsin Environmental Committee / Our Wisconsin Revolution / Racine Dominicans / Racine Green Party / Sierra Club, Beyond Coal Campaign / Sierra Club, John Muir Chapter / Sierra Club, Southeast Gateway Group / Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light / 350 Milwaukee. Supporting member organizations: Citizens Acting for Rail Safety / Gaia Coalition / Interfaith Earth Network / NextGen America / Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice / Racine Interfaith Coalition / School Sisters of Notre Dame / Waukesha County Green Team / Wisconsin Green Muslims / Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

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