We know that coal-fired power plants are bad for our health. The American Lung Association has just released the State of the Air Report, finding that 41 percent of Americans suffer from pollutions levels that are often dangerous to breathe, and carbon pollution has been linked to higher instances of childhood asthma.
However, we might not know just how bad coal-fired power really is. The twenty-six coal-fired power plants owned wholly or in part by American Electric Power (AEP) dumped nearly one million tons of sulfer dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and soot into the air, along with close to 190 million tons of industrial carbon dioxide.
That pollution contributed to as many as 3,2000 deaths last year.
Pollution from the coal-fired plants was also partially responsible for 20,000 asthma attacks and incidents, over 2,000 hospital and emergency room visits, and over 1,000,000 lost work-days, according to an analysis conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council by MSB Energy Associates, Inc.
While big polluters and their congressional allies regularly – and falsely – claim that clean air standards are a burden to our economy, the truth is that the economic toll of pollution from AEP’s coal plants reached as high as nearly $24 billion in 2011, according to the NRDC analysis. But the cost of complying with air pollution standards would cost AEP less than a billion a year.