March 12th, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Environment, News

Filthy 15


Remember when car manufacturers balked at the idea of making cars that would get – gasp – 30 miles to the gallon? Innovation was forced on the automobile industry because they were content to remain with the status quo, regardless of consequences. Reliance on coal and other fossil fuels is the current equivalent to status-quo complacency and Ohio ranks at the top, or bottom, of the list of a dangerous status quo – coal ash.

New coal plants proposed for Ohio will rank the Buckeye state the eighth highest polluter because of the plants would add 3, 711,616 tons of new coal ash waste.

“According to a new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the 15 states that would be the biggest polluters — the “Filthy 15”— have proposals for 54 coal plants and would create nearly 14 million tons of dangerous waste,” says a press release from the council. “Proposed coal plants across the United States would produce nearly 18 million tons of dangerous waste, including toxic metals, each year. Nearly 130 million tons of coal waste from existing plants is being produced annually, most of which is disposed of in largely unregulated landfills, ponds and other locations, posing serious public health and environmental risks.”

In conjunction with the new analysis, NRDC has released a new Web site that includes a state-by-state breakdown of the total amount annually of waste, including toxic metals, from existing and proposed plants. Go to: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/coalwaste.

Others with the distinction of being included in the Filty 15 are, in order, Texas, South Dakota, Florida, Nevada, Montana, Illinois, South Carolina, Ohio, Wyoming, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Georgia and West Virginia.

“Coal waste poses a large and unnecessary risk to people’s health and the environment, and we need to act before another Kingston disaster strikes,” says Peter Lehner, executive director of NRDC, “The EPA took a big step forward this week by announcing it will regulate coal ash, but they need to quickly examine how coal waste is handled and ensure proper management and disposal are in place at all new plants.”

The EPA recently announced it will finally begin to regulate coal ash. The action is too late for Kingston, Tennessee where 1 billion gallons of coal ash contained in a storage pond flowed through a breach in the walls into local waterways in December 2008. However, many states currently allow coal waste to be dumped, without oversight, into poorly constructed ponds, landfills and even abandoned mines.

“There are cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy choices available,” said Lehner. “America should be moving toward energy efficiency and renewable energy sources that will drive our economic recovery and meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

The EPA identified 24 sites in 13 states that are known or suspected to be contaminated by coal ash. Toxic metals—like arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxic substances – are frequently found in coal waste. Serious public health risks to people, especially children, include cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems, damage to the nervous system and kidneys, and learning disabilities.

Take a few moments to visit the Web site and learn about the impact these proposed coal power plants will have. Then write to your state representatives and demand that alternative and safer forms of energy be found – force innovation with your voice!

03.12.2009 at 05:29 Reply
This piece sounds like it's written solely based on one press release from the NRDC. I'm not saying I support the proliferation of coal plants, but where is the balance and talking to someone else about the issue? I'm curious if any of these new plants will be featuring new, cleaner technology so that older plants can be phased out? What are the facts surrounding the proposed coal plants and what are the plans for the older ones? As much as I'd love to see it happen, coal isn't going away any time in next 10 to 20 years. The industry is too entrenched in the economy of these states. It's great that steps are being taken to regulate the waste and that should be the focus of the piece rather than some vague name that we don't know the criteria. "filthy"


03.13.2009 at 04:56 Reply
Farbenfeld, this is a blog post and, at the risk of stating the obvious, not the kind of reporting that is done in a newspaper. The point is to present an issue, a point of view or just rant. It's a teaser, absolutely go tot he Web site and check out the criteria. If you think the whole thing is a load of bunk, sound off. If you agree with it, add that too.