Study findings revealed: Shawville Power Plant still slated to close by 2015 |
Friday, August 10, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
The National Resources Defense Council held a press conference yesterday via telephone to announce the findings of a recent study, which reports the top 20 states with toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
The top three states with the worst pollution, in order, are Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In a press release, which accompanied the conference, it was also noted there has been a 19 percent decrease in all air toxins from these power plants in 2010, when the most current data is available, compared to 2009 levels and includes a 4 percent drop in mercury emissions.
John Walke, clean air director for NRDC, said during the press conference there are two reasons for the decrease: the increased use of natural gas to operate the power plants, and installation of state-of-the-art pollution controls or the closing of some power plants. He said many companies are choosing to apply guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency voluntarily before the Mercury and Air Toxics standards go into effect in 2015.
The standards aim to cut mercury air pollution by 79 percent from 2010 levels.
The report, "Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States," states the NRDC found that coal- and oil-fired power plants contribute 44 percent of all toxic air pollution reported to the EPA.
Walke said these toxins contribute to many health concerns including premature death, asthma attacks, heart attacks and chronic bronchitis. If the proposed reduction takes place, the country could save $37 billion to $90 billion in health costs each year.
He noted that the standards were finalized last year; however, they have been under attack from members of Congress, with some of the states listed as having the worst toxic air pollution being split on whether to support the EPA's standards.
Franz Matzner, NRDC associate director of government affairs, talked more about the fight in Congress concerning the EPA's recommendations and noted that Sen. Reid said during discussions, "it's no secret coal kills" and it is also not a secret that families want to be protected, but some members of the House and Senate are fighting implementation of the standards.
In the press release Matzner says, "For too long, American's have had no choice but to breathe toxic air pollution. Thanks to the EPA, the air is getting cleaner. But we need lawmakers who will help clean up the air we all breathe - not lawmakers who do the bidding of Big Polluters trying to repeal safeguards that protect children's health. This and future Congresses should let the EPA do its job so all Americans can breathe easier."
Locally, it was announced in March that the Shawville Power Plant is part of a list of power plants slated for closing by 2015. The power plant, which is leased by GenOn Energy Inc. of Huston, will be placed on long-term protective lay up.
According to news articles at the time, the new rules from the EPA are one of the reasons for the closure of Shawville and four other power plants in the state. At the time, the Sierra Club, which challenged Shawville's Clean Air Act permit in 2011, praised the decision.
During yesterday's press conference, Heather Taylor-Miesle, deputy legislative director for NRDC, noted that readers of the report should look at it as an elective issue as well, stating that those in Congress who oppose the EPA's proposed regulations are subject to their constituents. "We all want our kids to be healthy and all (of us) want to breathe better," she said.
The entire press release can be found at www.nrdc.org under "news and reports," and the report can be found at www.nrdc.org/air/toxic-power-presentation.asp.
NRDC is an environmental action group combining 1.3 million members with 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.
More information on the organization can be found at their website.