Lansing, MI-- In a landmark report released today, the Clean Air Task Force has determined that reducing emissions of fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants, one of the top contributors of air pollution in the U.S., can have a direct and significant positive effect on public health, including here in Michigan.
"The Toll from Coal," the third such study from CATF, follows on their 2000 and 2004 reports and documents the progress in using modern pollution control technologies to decrease emissions of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), two of the most dangerous byproducts of coal combustion, and charts the progress to date in reducing the death and disease caused by coal-fired power plants.
The study also shows how the health risks and costs are distributed geographically, indicating that those areas with the highest concentration of coal plants bear a disproportionate share of negative public health impacts. Michigan, for example, ranks 12th in mortality risk, while California, which has very few coal-fired power plants, ranks almost last (47th) for power plant mortality risk.
In Michigan, researchers found that health impacts from coal-fired power plant emissions remain severe, with pollution from power plants estimated to cause 678 deaths, 487 hospital admissions, and 1,097 heart attacks.
"There's no excuse that in 2010 alone power plant pollution cut short the lives of 678 people in Michigan when technology is available that could virtually eliminate this source of pollution," said Susan Harley policy director for Clean Water Action "We call upon EPA and Congress to finish the job of cleaning-up deadly air pollution from power plants."
On a national level, other key findings of the report were:
"One thing we have learned over the last decade, is that intelligent regulation works, without significant cost increases to the industry or the consumer," said Harley "we have made a lot of progress in reducing the massive public health costs of emissions from coal-fired power plants. The State of Michigan has recently halted the development of new coal plants, but much more needs to be done to ensure that modern pollution controls are installed at all coal-fired power plants, and that we finally put and end to the death toll from coal."