Environmental Justice Groups Cry Foul on PSEG’s Coal

This week advocates for environmental justice gathered in Bridgeport to call for the retirement of PSEG’s coal-fired power plant. Convening in McLevy Green in downtown Bridgeport- members and supporters of the Healthy Connecticut Alliance unveiled support from environmental groups across the country, all the way from the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio to the JATAM Mining Advocacy Network in Indonesia where PSEG’s coal is sourced.

“Environmental justice is a movement,” said Elaine Ward-Thompson from the Healthy CT Alliance, “which recognizes and strives to correct the fact that low-income and minority communities have more than their fair share of pollution. Here in Bridgeport- the most obvious polluter is the coal plant.”

The Bridgeport Harbor Station coal-fired power plant, located in the South End neighborhood of Bridgeport was highlighted by the NAACP’s recent report, “Coal-Blooded” where it recognized the Bridgeport coal-fired power plant as among the top ten worst environmental justice offending coal plants in the nation. The report’s methodology weighted impact on low-income and communities of color in proximity to coal plants.

"Bridgeport’s workers and their families contributed so much to the wealth and defense of this city and nation – not just over decades, over centuries - from Little Liberia, free during slavery, to immigrants that armed our allies, and nursing home workers today,” said Maisa Tisdale, President/CEO of The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community, “If your hours were long and your paycheck small, if your face is black or brown, if grandma speaks some other language – chances are you have asthma from dirty air, allergies, heart and breathing problems. Make these history. No coal!"

Claire Miller of Toxics Action Center revealed a pattern of old coal facilities dying out across New England. “This plant was built in 1957, the same year the John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time as teenagers. Coal is old and heading towards retirement. PSEG needs to make sure that is a responsible retirement for the community.”

“Coal-burning is known to cause cancer, heart issues and act as a trigger for any respiratory disease like asthma. It is absurd that PSEG continues to burn coal in a residential neighborhood and within a mile of six schools,” said Phyllis Harrison from the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice in Bridgeport.

The event was back-dropped by a 10-foot long display of photos. Each showed a person holding signs that said “CEO Ralph Izzo, I believe in a better Bridgeport without coal” or “Ralph, Do the Right thing and Responsibly Retire the Coal Plant”. The campaign materials quoted that the State of Connecticut Department of Health found that kids in Bridgeport are ten times more likely to die from an asthma attack than kids elsewhere in the state.

“This is why we call the owners, PSEG, to responsibly retire the coal-fired power plant, work with the city to ensure redevelopment, and support the employees for a fair outcome,” declared Ward-Thompson to the crowd, “This is would be justice.”

Your Turn to Take Action: Tell Ralph Izzo it's time to retire coal.