WV leaders fight tighter carbon pollution standards amid public health risks from coal-fired plants
Charleston Gazette-Mailreporter Mike Tony details federal data showing that asthma and low life expectancy are highly prevalent in communities around West Virginia’s coal-fired power plants.
In a nutshell:
A study revealed that adverse health impacts in West Virginia were linked to five coal-fired plants, resulting in an estimated 266 deaths and 106 heart attacks in 2019. The EPA's proposal for carbon pollution standards has stirred controversy, with critics arguing it could force plant closures and compromise grid reliability. While proponents of renewable energy highlight PJM Interconnection's capacity market as a reliable solution, the EPA is anticipated to finalize its rule next year.
“EPA must require more plants to achieve greater carbon pollution reductions and on the fastest possible timeline in order to protect public health,” Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union, a health care, public sector and property services union, said in comments on the EPA proposal.
The big picture:
People residing, working, or attending school near these facilities often experience elevated rates of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, attributed to the release of pollutants like sulfur dioxide and fine particulate matter. Studies have indicated a heightened risk of cardiovascular issues including heart disease and heart attacks due to the exposure to air pollutants emitted by these plants. There are also concerns about shortened life expectancy and adverse developmental effects, particularly in children, as a result of prolonged exposure to the harmful emissions from coal-fired plants.
Read the article at the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Multiple scientific studies indicate that living near a coal plant can lead to negative health outcomes. For example, Brian Bienkowski wrote in 2018 about two studies that showed significantly fewer health risks for babies after nearby coal plants closed.