Chicago's far Southeast Side residents are applauding progress in their campaign against petcoke storage in their community, but say they aren't done fighting for a complete city ban on the oil refining byproduct.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday morning, members of the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke said they secured a major victory now that, under a city order, a company storing petcoke in their community can no longer have uncovered outdoor piles of the material.
More than 1,000 environmentalists and Chicago-area residents protested at the BP Refinery in Whiting, Indiana demanding an end to the use of fossil fuels and a transition to the sole use of renewable energy.
"From the toxic waste created by extreme extraction of tar sands destroying indigenous communities in Canada, to toxins created by the BP Whiting refinery producing sacrifice communities in the Greater Chicago area, to the catastrophic effect on our climate, the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels to a 100 percent renewable energy economy is abundantly clear," said Mariah Urueta, a Food & Water Watch Michigan organizer.
The protesters, joined by more than 70 local and national organizations, walked two miles through area neighborhoods, ending the march in front of the refinery. There, they sat in a circle at the facility's gates Sunday until 41 of the protesters were arrested by police donning riot gear. Those arrested were released shortly after being charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing. The protest took place as news broke that April's temps exceeded global records, which is the seventh consecutive month of such news, sparking analysts to contend that 2016 will likely be the hottest year on record by far.
A company storing petcoke on Chicago's Southeast Side will not be granted a delay from the city to cover its piles of the oil refining byproduct, according to a Monday announcement from the mayor's office.