Coal plant plans false

By Samuel Charles

The Environmental Protection Agency’s lawsuit against Midwest Generation EME LLC, a local energy company, and its two coal plants in Pilsen and Little Village is ongoing. However, plans to build a third coal plant in downtown Chicago have proven to be an elaborate hoax.

The Yes Men, a political and social activist group, managed to trick many South Loop residents into believing another plant was to be built on an empty lot on the southwest corner of Harrison and Wells streets.

A website, phone number, Twitter account, letter from Chicago’s Department of Public Health and a fake protest on April 27 were created as ways to increase discussion about Chicago’s environmental laws. According to a statement released by The Yes Men, this was the ultimate goal.

Midwest Generation EME LLC was also quick to clarify that the plans were all false.

“There’s no plant being built, the website’s not us, the Twitter account’s not us. It’s all a hoax,” said Douglas McFarlan, senior vice president of Public Affairs and Communications at Edison International, Midwest Generation’s parent company.

Citizens United Against Loop Coal worked with The Yes Men to organize the charade.

The organizers distributed information throughout the South Loop days before the protest to further convince people of the fake plans. The flier passed out to residents boasted the future plant would feature a green roof.

The sign posted on the vacant lot listed the contact information for ScottHankerson, the “new projects director” for Midwest Generation. However, the number led to a voicemail. McFarlan said the names, photos and employees on the fake website have no affiliation with

the company.

“We’re here to show Midwest Generation we don’t want them in our neighborhood,” said Sam Sommers, one of protest’s organizers. “They’re claiming it’s going to have an economic benefit on the community, but it’s actually going to make the community more depressed because people will have more health issues to take care of.”

Midwest Generation’s two Chicago plants were grandfathered in under the Clear Air Act, allowing them to follow less stringent pollution regulations. Also, the city’s Clean Power Ordinance has stalled in City Council. The ordinance would require new policies and procedures for energy plants like Midwest Generation’s to improve their environmental impact.

The mere idea of a plant in the area prompted residents to express their anger on various local websites, such as and

“Chicago definitely needs jobs,” said one anonymous user. “But not on the backs of the homeowners who are already reeling from falling home prices.”