LANSING (WWJ) – Michigan is the seventh 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 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Those power plants in Michigan emitted more than 15.5 million pounds of harmful chemicals, which accounted for 61 percent of state pollution and about 5 percent of toxic pollution from all U.S. power plants, according to the NRDC.
The analysis also ranks Michigan tenth among all states in industrial mercury air pollution from power plants with about 2,250 pounds emitted in 2010, which accounted for 82 percent of state mercury air pollution and 3 percent of U.S. electric sector mercury pollution.
On the national level, the report found a 19 percent decrease in all air toxics emitted from power plants in 2010, the most recent data available, compared to 2009 levels.
The NRDC said the welcomed drop, which also includes a four percent decrease in mercury emissions, results from two key factors. 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,” John Walke, NRDC’s clean air director, said in a statement. “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.’’
Despite the overall reductions in total emissions, 18 of the” Toxic 20″ from 2009 remain on the 2010 list, although several states have made significant improvements highlighted in the report.
The states on the “Toxic 20” list (from worst to best) are:
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
To see the analysis “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States,” visit www.nrdc.org.