Policy Director Testifies at Press Conference Demanding Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady Deny the Permit to General Iron

On Thursday, December 2nd, the Southeast Environmental Task Force held a press conference demanding that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the CDPH, deny the permit to General Iron. Wesley Epplin, Health & Medicine Policy Director, testified as part of the leadership team for the Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County which works in solidarity with Southeast Side residents in their efforts to fight against environmental racism as well as demand their rights to clean air and health. Below is a portion of the testimony, which you can read in full here.

“The significance of this decision goes beyond the Southeast Side. Indeed, it matters to the entire city of Chicago and the broader metro Chicago—and the entire country. The same pattern of environmental racism continues to play out across Chicago and in communities of color across the United States. This is what is meant by the racist structuring of health risks.

So Mayor Lightfoot and Dr. Arwady’s decision here is of both city-wide and national importance, and the stakes are high: literally people’s lives are at stake.


Earlier this year, several Southeast Side residents literally starved themselves for weeks on end in a 30-day hunger strike after years of the city and state ignoring their demands that their health, human dignity, and lives be valued more than a company’s profits—and to demand that this permit be denied.

The Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County and Health & Medicine Policy Research Group assert that the life of a single Black or Latinx child is more important and worth far more than all the riches or wealth of a corporate polluter.

The truth of this matter is that failure to deny this permit would harm the public’s health, specifically Southeast Side residents. Such a failure would worsen health inequities in Chicago.

We’re not asking. We’re demanding that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady do the right thing and deny the permit to General Iron.”