Good News for Those of Us Who Breathe-Especially Ohioans
Posted by Rob Jenner on Dec 23, 2011 in Consumer Alerts
On December 21, 2011—more than two decades after Congress first called upon it to do so—the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally unveiled a final rule requiring all power plants to limit their emissions of heavy metals including mercury and arsenic, as well as of acid gases. The agency estimates this rule will cut the country’s mercury pollution by 90 percent—in just four years. EPA also estimates that annually the rule will avoid between 6,800 and 17,000 premature deaths and will result in savings of $48 to $140 billion.
Ohioans should be particularly relieved, since some of the dirtiest plants in the nation are located in the Buckeye state.
Collectively, power plants are the worst toxic air polluters in this country. Everyday these plants emit mercury, lead, arsenic, selenium, acid gases, and other poisons into our air. These toxics can cause cancer, damage the liver and kidneys, and lead to serious respiratory ailments like asthma, decreased lung function, and bronchitis.
Power plants today have access to modern technology that can drastically limit the amount of pollution they emit into our air. A few exemplary companies have installed these modern pollution controls, and for that reason, the total amount of toxins emitted by power plants has declined in this country over the last decade. However, many other power plants are still spewing out poisons.
According to a recent report released by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club, a small number of power plants that have refused to install any of this modern technology are responsible for the majority of toxic air pollution in this country. Ohio residents should be particularly concerned by the report’s results since many of these exceptionally dirty power plants reside in the Buckeye State. As a result, Ohio currently ranks second in the nation for mercury, selenium, and cobalt pollution. And Ohio’s plants also produced the fourth most lead pollution in the nation.
There is no reason that a handful of companies should be allowed to avoid cleaner, modern technology and to disproportionally pollute our air and jeopardize human health. In Ohio and other states home to particularly dirty power plants, people are being sickened and killed simply because companies have refused to install already available pollution control.
While it is unfortunate that it took over two decades, the EPA should be applauded for initiating steps requiring all power plants to do what some have already proved to be technologically and financially achievable—to install appropriate control mechanisms limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, lead, and other toxins that poison the air we all breathe each day.