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Nine US States Voluntarily Act To Reduce Power Plant Emissions


By James Donahue

Dec. 6, 2005


To hell with the Bush Administration’s failure to recognize the global warming crisis, nine states in the Northeast are banding together to take action on their own.


A story in the New York Times last week noted that Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont are all working on an agreement to freeze power station emissions at current levels and then cut them by ten percent by 2020.


Once a final deal is reached, each state involved in the pact must pass local legislation forcing coal burning power plants within their borders to comply. The stricter controls could bring higher energy prices, but environmentalists hope the move will set a model for other states to follow.


This is great news and yet sad news at the same time. It is unfortunate that state governments must go to all the trouble of accomplishing what the federal government can and should have done years ago. Participating in the Kyoto Protocol with other world nations was only a small step in the direction the world must be moving if we hope to put the brakes on the global warming crisis now threatening to destroy our planet.


Unfortunately states like Pennsylvania, identified as the worst of all 50 states for power plant emissions pollution, hasn’t jumped into this pact.


An environmental report for the Clean Air Task Force in 2004 found that over 1,800 Pennsylvanians will die prematurely because of power plant pollution, with 563 of them occurring in the eight-county Pittsburgh metropolitan area, located downwind from more than a dozen coal-burning power plants in the Ohio River Valley.


Those plants emit carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, mercury and tiny airborne soot particles that people are breathing.


Pennsylvania is not alone with its dirty coal-burning power plants. It just has more of them. West Virginia, another state not participating in the agreement, is running a close second. You can find these dirty plants puffing smog and ugly soot in every state in the union.


Nationally, power plant pollution is blamed for 37,200 heart attacks and 23,600 premature deaths every year, more than the 20,000 murders and 17,000 people killed by drunk drivers. It is a national disgrace, and something we can and must fix before we run the human race off into total extinction.


Since he was elected to office, President Bush and his administration have gutted the Clean Air Act that forced power plants to install scrubbers on their smoke stacks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group recently revealed that global warming pollution from the 500 dirtiest plants in the nation increased eight percent during the last six years, releasing 175 million more tons of carbon dioxide into the air.


Scientists believe global warming is already affecting the weather, causing more intense storms and shifting rain patterns. They predict massive flooding in coastal areas, intense heat waves and more tropical storms as the world gets hotter.


There is currently no federal law limiting global warming emissions.


Bush, who campaigned on a promise to support such a law, now argues that it would force coal-fired plants out of business and spark an energy crisis. He also is balking against international pressure to participate in a global emissions plan to clean up dirty plants all over the world.


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