These Coal Plants are Emitting What?

Crawford Coal Power Plant, Chicago

THE COAL PLANTS ARE EMITTING WHAT?

By Hannah Grooms, Illinois Environmental Student Coalition
September 30, 2011

These days there is a lot of talk about coal power plants. When the Clean Power Ordinance started to gain momentum, the negative effects of coal plants received more media attention. There has been much publicity on the particulate matter and CO2 released by Fisk and Crawford power plants, but what other emissions should we be worried about?

PM – Particulate Matter is covered under the Clean Power Ordinance. Fisk and Crawford will be required to reduce their PM emissions to 0.015 lbs/MMBtu, a substantial decrease! This is very important, because particulate matter is a key factor causing premature deaths, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and other respiratory illnesses.

CO2 – Carbon Dioxide will be monitored under the Clean Power Ordinance. The two power plants must reduce their CO2 emissions to 120.36 lbs/MMBtu. Carbon dioxide is famous for causing global warming. In past years, Fisk and Crawford power plants have emitted a combined total of 5,084,187 tons of CO2 in one year!

SO2 – Sulfur Dioxide is covered under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Ordinance does not regulate SO2 emissions, so they can remain at current federal limits. However, emission standards today are still harmful. SO2 is responsible for many respiratory illnesses including asthma attacks. It also has negative effects in the environment causing acidic deposition in our forests and waterways. Fisk and Crawford power plants emitted a combined total of 13,970 tons per year in past years!

NOx – Various oxides of nitrogen are not included in the Clean Power Ordinance but are currently covered by EPA laws. This is essential because NOx emissions can cause premature mortality and decreased pulmonary function. They are also extremely detrimental to the environment – responsible for the increase in algae blooms in our waterways. Fisk and Crawford power plants emitted a combined total of 3,673 tons of NOx per year in past years.

Hg – Mercury emissions in Illinois are regulated more stringently than they are on a federal level. The Clean Power Ordinance will not change this regulation. The largest source of man-made mercury is from coal burning power plants. Mercury is a very dangerous hazardous air pollutant when children are exposed prematurely. It causes IQ loss, development problems, and affects the human nervous system. Mercury is capable of entering our environment, depositing itself in waterways, and bioaccumulating in the fish we consume. In 2005, Crawford power plant emitted 145 pounds of mercury.

These five pollutants are five reasons why we should be concerned about power plants. Though many more go unnamed. The Clean Power Ordinance will help greatly in reducing some of these emissions. Also on its way is the EPA’s new proposed toxics law which promises to make more stringent emission limits on all of the above pollutants to help make Illinois’ air much safer to breath!

Values obtained from www.SourceWatch.org.

For more on the campaign to reduce pollution from Fisk and Crawford or permanently retire these plants visit Chicago Clean Power Coalition‘s website.  Eco-Justice Collaborative is a founding member of this coalition.

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