The Natural Resources Defense Council condemned eight coal-burning utility companies Tuesday for flouting the Clean Air Act and spending millions to lobby against pollution controls.
In a report, the NRDC detailed how the companies have poured money into blocking or delaying clean air protections. The American public pays the price in the form of illnesses, higher health costs and more than 10,000 deaths annually, the environmental group said.
The report was released on the eve of a Senate vote on a resolution by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to nullify an Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at reducing emissions of mercury and other air toxics from power plants.
“The ‘Gang of Eight’ utilities are putting their profits over protecting kids and communities from deadly, dangerous air pollution,” Pete Altman, the NRDC’s climate and clean air campaign director, said during a news teleconference. “The health and welfare of millions of Americans, including children, who are most vulnerable to air pollution, hang in the balance.”
The utilities pinpointed by the NRDC are AEP, Ameren, DTE Energy, Energy Future Holdings, FirstEnergy, GenOn, PPL and Southern Company. They are based in Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
The report uses 2011 emissions data from each of the utilities’ power plants, as reported to the EPA, to calculate health and economic impacts. An analysis done for the NRDC by consulting firm MSB Energy Associates Inc. estimates a toll of 10,400 deaths, 65,000 asthma attacks, 6,600 hospital visits, 3.4 million lost workdays, and $78 billion in total costs to the U.S. economy in 2011.