Indiana is the fourth worst state in the nation when it comes to exposing
residents to toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants, according to
an analysis released on Thursday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The NRDC-compiled data show:
•Indiana’s electric sector ranked fourth in industrial toxic air pollution
in 2010, emitting more than 26.2 million pounds of harmful chemicals, which
accounted for 65 percent of state pollution and about 8 percent of toxic
pollution from all U.S. power plants.
•Indiana ranked fifth among all states in industrial mercury air pollution
from power plants, with more than 3,170 pounds emitted in 2010, which
accounted for 78 percent of state mercury air pollution and 5 percent of
U.S. electric sector mercury pollution.
On the national level, the report found a 19 percent decrease nationally in
all air toxics emitted from power plants in 2010, compared to 2009. “The
welcomed drop, which also includes a 4 percent decrease in mercury
emissions, results from two key factors,” NRDC said. “One is the increasing
use by power companies of natural gas, which has become cheaper and is
cleaner burning than coal. The other is the installation of state-of-the-art
pollution controls by many plants--in anticipation of new health protections
issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
“Toxic pollution is already being reduced as a result of EPA’s
health-protecting standards,” said John Walke, NRDC’s clean air director.
“Thanks to the agency’s latest safeguards, millions of children and their
families in the states hardest hit by toxic air pollution from power plants
will be able to breathe easier.”
“But these protections are threatened because polluters are intent on
persuading future Congresses or presidential administrations to repeal
them,” Walke added.
Finalized in 2011, EPA’s mercury and air toxics standards will cut mercury
air pollution by 79 percent from 2010 levels, beginning in 2015.
NRDC noted that U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. and Dan Coats, R-Ind., both
supported the resolution by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to repeal the
mercury and air toxics standards.
Franz Matzner, NRDC associate director of Government Affairs, said, “For too
long, Americans 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.”
In the second edition of “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air
and States,” NRDC also found that coal- and oil-fired power plants still
contribute nearly half (44 percent) of all the toxic air pollution reported
to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The
report also ranks the states by the amount of their toxic air pollution
Compared to 2010 levels, the standard will reduce mercury pollution from 34
tons to 7 tons, a 79 percent reduction, by 2015, NRDC said. Sulfur dioxide
pollution will be reduced from 5,140,000 tons in 2010 to 1,900,000 tons in
2015, a 63 percent reduction. Another dangerous acid gas, hydrochloric acid,
will be reduced from 106,000 tons in 2010 to 5,500 tons in 2015, a 95
“With those and other pollution reductions resulting from the standard, as
many as 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital
visits, 4,700 heart attacks, and 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis will be
avoided in 2016,” NRDC said. “The public health improvements are also
estimated to save $37 billion to $90 billion in health costs, and prevent up
to 540,000 missed work or ‘sick’ days each year.”
Despite the overall reductions in total emissions, 18 of the Toxic 20 from
2009 remain in the 2010 list released today, although several states have
made significant improvements highlighted in the report.
The states on the “Toxic 20” list (from worst to best) are:
(1) Kentucky; (2) Ohio; (3) Pennsylvania; (4) Indiana; (5) West Virginia;
(6) Florida; (7) Michigan; (8) North Carolina; (9) Georgia; (10) Texas; (11)
Tennessee; (12) Virginia; (13) South Carolina; (14) Alabama; (15) Missouri;
(16) Illinois; (17) Mississippi; (18) Wisconsin; (19) Maryland; (20)
The EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, known as the TRI, is a national database
of toxic emissions self-reported by industrial sources. Power plants report
emission of mercury, hydrochloric acid, and other hazardous metals.