Day 2: Monday, October 3

7:00 AM — Bus departs for Waukegan, IL. (Breakfast aboard)

Coal’s Long Goodbye: A Coal-Powered Community Envisions a Green Energy Future

8:30 AM – In 2014, New Jersey-based NRG Energy purchased a handful of coal-fired power plants in Illinois, including one on the shores of Lake Michigan in Waukegan. NRG spent millions modernizing the plant and reducing emissions. While many in Waukegan see NRG as a job provider and crucial part of the tax base, others are tired of the same old energy source. Outside influences like the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign and the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, along with Waukegan’s own lakefront redesign project, have brought the issue into the public discourse. A recent poll of residents found 70% of respondents favored transitioning away from coal. Will community leaders and outside advocacy groups push the city toward a different, greener vision of its future?

  • Reverend Eileen Shanley – pastor, Christ Episcopal Church, Waukegan, IL

  • David Villalobos – alderman, 4th Ward, Waukegan, IL

  • Dulce Ortiz – local resident/member, Clean Power Lake County

  • Susana Figueroa – Lake County outreach director, Faith in Place

  • Brian Urbaszewski – director, environmental health programs, Respiratory Health Association

  • Faith Bugel – senior attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center

  • Julie Contreras – local resident/president, League of United Latin American Citizens

  • Lisa May – alderwoman/mayoral candidate, 7th Ward, Waukegan, IL

    11:30 – Bus heads back to Milwaukee with journalists on board, of course! (Lunch en route)

    Running a Coal Plant in the 21st Century

    1:00 PM – The modern tale of coal-fired power production is one of, well, less coal. For many of the plants that aren’t being shuttered entirely, big changes are under way as the fuel that stokes the fires is moving from coal to natural gas. We Energies’ Valley Plant in Milwaukee recently underwent that change. We’ll learn how that all went down as we tour the plant. We’ll then hear from the company as it discusses another “modern coal” story, that of the beneficial reuse of coal ash, a practice some see as the best way to dispose of a pernicious waste product, but others contend is a public health menace.

  • Bruce Ramme – vice president, environmental, We Energies

  • Other representatives, We Energies, TBD 3:00 PM – Bus heads south (we know, again?)

    toward We Energies’ Oak Creek plant.

    Cleaning up Coal: Beneficial Reuse of Coal Ash

    3:30 PM – The residue left behind by coal combustion, called “coal ash,” is one of the main kinds of industrial waste generated in the U.S. The primary disposal method is still “wet storage” of the ash in large holding ponds. However, issues of these ponds leaching toxic heavy metals into nearby waterways and the occasional catastrophic failure led to the hunt for a new disposal method. Wisconsin leads the nation in the “beneficial reuse” of coal ash, where dry ash is mixed into materials like wallboard and concrete and as fill in embankments and roadways. The US EPA supports the practice and even lists coal ash as “non-hazardous waste,” but some claim that what’s buried with the ash doesn’t stay there.

  • Philip Fauble – mining and beneficial reuse coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

  • Ruth O’Donnell – beneficial reuse specialist, WDNR

  • Katie Nekola – general counsel, Clean Wisconsin

  • Tyson Cook – director of science and research, Clean Wisconsin

  • Frank Michna – local resident/city engineer, Caledonia, WI

    5:30 PM – Group heads back to Milwaukee
    7: 00 PM – Dinner at Vagabond, 1122 N. Edison

    Overnight—Hyatt Regency Downtown. 333 W. Kilbourn Ave. Milwaukee, WI. (414) 270-6067