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Coal Blooded – Report by the NAACP

The NAACP recently released a report, Coal Blooded, which documents the “Environmental Justice Performance” of all coal fired power plants around the country. The report ranks the 378 plants using EPA toxic emissions data and demographic information – race, income and population density. The report shows that the six million Americans living near coal plants have an average income lower than the national average and 39% are people of color – whereas people of color make up 36% of the US population.

Buck Coal Plant on the Yadkin River, © Les Stone.

In North Carolina, four coal plants received D or F “Environmental Justice Performance” grades. The good news is that since the data used in the report was 2007-2010, three of these plants have since closed and the fourth will close next year.

• Progress’ WH Weatherspoon coal plant near Lumberton closed in 2011

• Progress’ Lee coal plant near Goldsboro closed this past September

• Duke’s Dan River coal plant in Rockingham County closed this year

• Progress’ LV Sutton coal plant near Wilmington is scheduled to close in late 2013

Progress’ Mayo plant in Person Count barely made passing a grade with a C-. The Mayo plant has more than a half of a million pounds of coal ash stored on site. This year a Duke University study found high levels of the toxics commonly found in coal ash in Mayo Lake, a recreational area near the plant.

The NAACP also looked at the performance by utility, with a dozen companies having the worst “Environmental Justice Performance” scores. Duke Energy ranked seventh worst on that list. Much of the reason is due to the fact that Duke owns the eighth worst scoring plant in the report – Gallagher Generating Station in Indiana. The over 50-year old coal plant is across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky and is a top generator of toxic coal ash in the country. What’s worse is that this plant has released as much as 40 pounds of sulfur dioxide per megawatt- hour of electricity, gaining the title of the nation’s dirtiest power plant by the Environmental Integrity Project in 2007.

Pollution that is emitted from coal plants can cause asthma, lung inflammation, chronic bronchitis, heart conditions and birth defects. In 2010, the Clean Air Task Force, based on EPA data, estimated that coal emissions cause 13,200 premature deaths, 9,700 hospitalizations each year across the country and $100 billion in monetary damages.

Our “home grown energy” is costing us our health, our environment and our wallets. A 2011 analysis by Harvard of the true cost of coal – from the mining to burning to storing coal ash and the health effects to workers, those living downwind, and our air, water and land - is costing the US public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. That’s a lot of money that the utilities are not paying to burn coal. If they were, coal generated electricity could cost an additional $.17 per kilowatt hour – that is double what Duke customers pay today.

 

16 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    November 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Pathetic report. Where is the concern for power bill justice? If we stopped using coal as a fuel for meeting our energy needs, watch our power bill go up and the cost of goods and services go up. Where will the NAACP be on grocery bill justice and cost of living justice?

  2. david esmay

    November 26, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Frank, you’ve made a lot of moronic statements, this may top the list.

  3. Lisa Finaldi

    November 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Here’s the contrast to paying for the true cost of coal at $.17 per kilowatt hour.

    Efficiency and renewables save ratepayers money which means those that can least afford it are not only receiving the benefits of better health but also lower bills – here’s the study I wrote about a few months back:

    http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2012/07/25/a-cleaner-future-for-duke-energy/

  4. James

    November 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

  5. Nonanon

    November 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    No fossil fuels or non-renewable energy resources were consumed either in the production or transmission of this report. The author walks to work and uses only natural light. Holding corporate profiteers accountable for all of the costs of production should be a given.

    I can’t wait to see what “shared sacrifice” looks like.

  6. Frank Burns

    November 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Lisa,
    Sorry, but solar and wind are much more expensive than energy from coal. I don’t believe reports from Greenpeace. http://nuclearfissionary.com/2010/04/02/comparing-energy-costs-of-nuclear-coal-gas-wind-and-solar/

    Solar energy average cost is 22 cents per kwatt hour. The cost of coal energy is 4.5 cents per kwhr. Since coal currently accounts for 45% of our energy supply, if you eliminated all coal and converted to solar, the cost increase would be over a 200% increase. So right off the bat our power bills would go up 200%, then our consumer products would also go up by some percentage as well.

    So where is the NAACP on the cost of energy justice? Oops.

  7. Frank Burns

    November 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Nonanon, get off your high horse. The consumer doesn’t care about your corporate profiteers but does care about keeping costs down.

  8. david esmay

    November 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    James, I stand corrected. He is living proof that one can live in willful ignorance in regards to the salient facts on any subject. Frank must have been the case study for Chris Mooney’s “The Republican Brain”.

  9. Frank Burns

    November 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    David, that’s ok you avoid the facts but just shoot the messenger. I understand you completely. James is just being James, with BlueNC being the place where NC goes to whine.

  10. Stephen

    November 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Frank, you’re the only one whinging around here, and you do it EVERY FREAKING DAY! Can’t you find somewhere else to get your news? Why do you keep coming back?

  11. James

    November 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    No one else will have him.

  12. Frank Burns

    November 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    The left avoids the truth like a plague, they prefer to limit free speech.

  13. Alex

    November 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Instead of studying the merits of coal, the NAACP should be looking at the high unemployment rate among minorities, high incarceration rates, and the single parent crisis. Absolutely foolish in my opinion.

  14. Hugh Magbie

    November 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

    We must phase out coal fire plants world wide and replace it with clean cheap energy. When electric power plants are owned buy municipalities and rural electric co-ops, the cost of that energy is less. In Europe, wind and solar are very inexpensive because they are owned by the people. We have too many middle men who do nothing to enhance the product but simply stand between the consumer and the provider. We need to eliminate speculators and corporate special interests who have helped destroy our economy and created the recession. We must sue and send to jail those corporate entities and their banking and hedge fund masters who have poisoned the health of our communities. What do you call it when some one or something poisons the very air you breath, criminal? Insane? Genocidal? Shut them down now!

  15. Frank Burns

    November 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Alex, you are correct. I’ve seen some dumb things come out of the NAACP but this one is one of the dumbest.

  16. david esmay

    November 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    James, they let let Frank hang around for comic relief, like Gabby Hayes. What a minute, Gabby Hayes had a beard, Lenin had a beard, Lenin was a communist, holy crap, Frank is a communist!