I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Reducing coal power plant pollution will save lives, new study finds
Between 50 and 150 New Mexicans’ deaths each year in San Juan County are caused by air pollution from coal-fired power plant emissions, according to estimates in a study released Thursday by the Clean Air Task Force (CATF), an environmental group.
Additional lives — fewer than 25 a year — are lost to coal plant pollution each year in McKinley County, according to the report.
In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the air permit for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant, which was slated to be built on the Navajo Nation, near Farmington. Sithe Global spokesman Frank Maisano told the Independent that the plant would have advanced control systems in place to greatly reduce the mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter normally associated with coal-fired power plants.
Identifying coal-fired power plants as “one of the top contributors to air pollution in the U.S.,” the study concludes that more than 13,000 premature deaths nationwide will be caused by fine air particles released from coal plants in 2010.
The problem is much more serious in the eastern states than the southwest, with the highest plant-related death rates occurring in large cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington, D.C.
The fine particle air pollution triggers more than 20,000 heart attacks nationwide each year, the report estimates.
“From asthma attacks to premature deaths, air pollution from power plants still causes far too much harm to public health,” American Lung Association vice president Janice Nolen said of the study. She called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt stricter air pollution limits for coal-fired power plants.
Reducing pollution from coal plants will spark demand for clean energy technology, creating new jobs, Pew Environment Group spokeswoman Phyllis Cuttino said. “Pollution control technologies, such as scrubbers, are labor intensive and require significant man hours by engineers, managers and skilled laborers.”
The Clean Air Task Force is a nonprofit environmental group founded in 1996, according to its website.