Power Plant Pollution has Power to Kill

New Study Finds Thousands of Premature Deaths Each Year From Coal-Burning Power Plants That Violate Clean Air Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Clear the Air, the National Campaign Against Dirty Power, today released a new study showing the health impacts of pollution from the oldest, dirtiest coal-burning power plants that the federal government has charged with violating the Clean Air Act.

According to the new report Power to Kill, every year at least 5,500 and as many as 9,000 Americans have their lives shortened by pollution from power plants that the U.S. Department of Justice has taken to court for violating the Clean Air Act. At the same time, these plants trigger at least 107,000 and as many as 170,000 asthma attacks. Power to Kill was written by the Clean Air Task Force and based on research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) own consultants.

"The fact is that every single day, the pollution from many of the oldest and dirtiest power plants are shortening thousands of lives and endangering our health," said Conrad Schneider of the Clean Air Task Force, author of the report and spokesman for Clear the Air. "What's worse is that many of these deaths result from illegal pollution increases. By circumventing public health protections under the Clean Air Act, several of the country's biggest power companies have increased the amount of pollution they belch into the air without using better pollution controls. As this study shows, that gives these power plants the Power to Kill."

Hundreds of coal-fired power plants in operation today are decades old, and have avoided modern pollution controls because of a "grandfathering" loophole. These plants fail to meet modern pollution standards for smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) or for sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes deadly fine particle pollution.

A key provision of the Clean Air Act says that if power companies upgrade their plants in a way that increases pollution, they must improve their pollution controls, too. However, many of these plants have ignored this provision, which is why the U.S. Department of Justice brought legal action to force them to clean up. Power to Kill shows that nationally:

The Bush energy plan released in May, however, throws the future of these lawsuits into doubt. The plan not only questions whether these enforcement actions should continue, but also questions whether the law itself should be weakened.

"Americans need to let President Bush know that we are aware of the dangers posed by these illegally-polluting power plants," said Angela Ledford, Director of Clear the Air. "Lives are literally at stake, and if the president is serious about protecting public health and the environment, he needs to enforce the law."

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