Chicago Community Roundtable on Impacts from and Solutions to Rail and Locomotive Pollution

May 24, 2024

On Wednesday, May 29, UE will join the Moving Forward Network (MFN) and other MFN affiliates in holding a community roundtable on impacts from and solutions to rail and locomotive pollution.

WHERE: The Arturo Velasquez Westside Technical Institute
2800 S. Western Avenue
Chicago IL 60608


MEDIA CONTACT: Tommy Carden, Coordinator, Green Locomotive Project | 312.206.8901

Sponsoring organizations will facilitate a panel discussion led by experts from across the country who have been organizing against the pollution and cumulative impacts caused by the freight rail and locomotive sector. Experts will speak about how zero-emission solutions are not only possible but necessary to address the deadly harms caused by the freight rail and locomotive sector.

On May 30, the EPA’s Mobile Source Technical Review Subcommittee (MSTRS) will have a regular, in-person meeting in Chicago. MSTRS is charged with providing U.S. EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and the EPA with “independent advice, counsel and recommendations on the scientific and technical aspects of programs related to mobile source air pollution and motor fuels”. Last year thanks to the leadership and organizing from communities across the country, the MSTRS took on the charge from EPA to research and report about how the EPA should be taking action to address rail and locomotive pollution. (See

Ahead of the May 30th MSTRS meeting in Chicago, members of the subcommittee will have the opportunity to observe firsthand the effects of rail pollution on the southwest side of Chicago as part of a rail yard tour. MSTRS members will join Moving Forward Network member organizations on a community and worker-led tour of the Cicero intermodal/yard to observe rail operations and impacts on surrounding communities. Following the tour of the yard itself, participants will drive through the adjacent community (Little Village) and see how the impacts from the several surrounding railyards spill over into the neighborhoods.

  • According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Chicago has more rail infrastructure than any other American city. Currently, 25 percent of all freight trains and 50 percent of all intermodal trains pass through the metropolitan area. We’re North America’s main interchange point between western and eastern railroads. It is the only place where all 6 Class I railroads converge, all of whom have multiple intermodal rail yards in the region.

  • Freight traffic is expected to grow significantly in the Chicago region. CMAP estimates that overall rail tonnage will grow by 62% between 2007 and 2040. These diesel locomotives pass through our neighborhoods and our homes, schools, parks, hospitals, and businesses every day, poisoning our communities. Those same communities have higher rates of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, as well as premature death. Chicago in particular and many other cities across the country are clear examples of why activists are advocating for the rapid electrification of locomotives, and why there is such urgency behind this advocacy.


José Miguel Acosta Córdova, MUPP — José Acosta Córdova is the Transportation Justice Program Manager at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), and leads their transportation and freight policy advocacy work at the city and state levels. He is also a 4th-year PhD student in Geography and GIS at the U of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. 
 Tommy Carden — Tommy is the Associate Director at Warehouse Workers for Justice. Previously, he was an organizer at WWJ for 3 years. Additionally, Tommy is part-time coordinator for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America’s (UE) Green Locomotive Project. Prior to WWJ & UE, Tommy was an intern field examiner at the National Labor Relations Board.

Molly Greenberg, MSW, MPhil — Molly (she/her) is the Senior Campaign Manager for the Moving Forward Network. She leads the campaign organizing and policy advocacy for the over 50 member national Moving Forward Network. Molly has been working on freight campaigns for over 10 years. She is pursuing her PhD and received her MPhil from The New School University. She also received a MSW from Monmouth University.

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