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Jun-20-2012 02:49printcomments

NRDC Analysis: 'Gang of Eight' Utilities Spent Millions Lobbying and Litigating Against EPA Action While Pollution Contributes t

On Eve of Inhofe Vote to Repeal EPA Mercury Standards, Report Links Emissions to Lobbying Efforts by AEP, Ameren, DTE Energy, Energy Future Holdings, FirstEnergy, GenOn, PPL and Southern Company.

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Learn more, visit: http://www.nrdc.org

(WASHINGTON DC) - As eight leading U.S. utilities spent millions of dollars lobbying and litigating to block, weaken or delay major Clean Air Act safeguards, their coal-fired power plants emitted enough pollution to contribute to nearly 10,400 deaths and as much as $78 billion in health care costs, according to a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In “The Price of Pollution Politics,” NRDC links the 2010 to 2012 lobbying expenditures and litigation to the pollution and associated health impacts of these utilities: AEP, (Columbus, OH); Ameren, (Collinsville, IL); DTE Energy, (Detroit); Energy Future Holdings, (Dallas); FirstEnergy, (Akron, OH); GenOn, (Houston); PPL, (Allentown, PA); and Southern Company, (Atlanta, GA). The analysis estimates health impacts based on 2011 emissions reported to the Environmental Protection Agency. The individual details for each utility are outlined below and in the report.

“The ‘Gang of Eight’ utilities are putting their profits over protecting kids and communities from deadly and dangerous air pollution,” said Pete Altman, climate and clean air campaign director at NRDC. “Without these health protections from the Clean Air Act, we will see more premature deaths, asthma attacks and other illnesses every year, together with billions of dollars in estimated health costs that go with them. We want to see these companies focus their money on cleaning up pollution rather than using litigation and lobbying to delay important improvements in clean air protections. ”

The “Gang of Eight’s” coal-fired power plants generated enough air pollution in 2011 to have contributed to as many as 10,400 deaths; 65,000 asthma attacks; 6,600 hospital and emergency room visits; and 3.4 million lost work-days. The companies’ combined economic toll on America reaches as high as $78 billion, based on the analysis conducted for NRDC by energy consulting firm MSB Energy Associates, Inc. The analysis is based on a widely-accepted, peer-reviewed model that links air pollution to adverse health consequences.

“Coal pollutants contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases,” said Catherine Thomasson, MD, executive director of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The damage they do to health is severe and widespread. It’s vital that these dirty emissions be reduced. If not, thousands of Americans will needlessly suffer illnesses and premature deaths.”

The Senate is slated to vote Wednesday on a resolution by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to eliminate EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants. According to the report, these utilities operate coal-fired power plants that, according to EPA data, emitted more than 22,820 pounds of mercury into the air in 2011. The plants also emitted 2.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and soot, the drivers of the severe health impacts estimated in the report, along with more than 580 million tons of industrial carbon dioxide into the air.

“There is a startling degree of disdain for life-saving limits on air pollution and health standards to protect Americans, including vulnerable children,” said John Walke, clean air director at NRDC. “Attempts, like Inhofe’s, to slow down or stop any EPA protections need to be stopped.”

The data for each individual company is outlined in the NRDC report as follows:

* AEP, headquarters in Columbus, OH: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $22 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 3,260 deaths, 20,100 asthma attacks, 2,000 hospital and emergency room visits and 1 million lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $24 billion.

* Ameren, headquarters in Collinsville, IL: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $7.5 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 920 deaths, 6,000 asthma attacks, 640 hospital and emergency room visits and 311,000 lost work and activity days; and estimated total health costs: as high as $6.9 billion.

* DTE Energy, headquarters in Detroit: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $3.6 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 920 deaths, 5,700 asthma attacks, 570 hospital and emergency room visits and 300,000 lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $6.9 billion.

* Energy Future Holdings, headquarters in Dallas: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $7 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 540 deaths, 3,700 asthma attacks, 380 hospital and emergency room visits and 188,000 lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $4 billion.

* FirstEnergy, headquarters in Akron, OH: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $5.7 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 1,360 deaths, 8,100 asthma attacks, 800 hospital and emergency room visits and 435,000 lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $10.2 billion.

* GenOn, headquarters in Houston: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $1 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 900 deaths, 5,500 asthma attacks, 530 hospital and emergency room visits and 294,000 lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $6.7 billion.

* PPL, headquarters in Allentown, PA: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $1.9 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 970 deaths, 6,100 asthma attacks, 600 hospital and emergency room visits and 322,000 lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $7.3 billion.

* Southern Company, headquarters in Atlanta, GA: 2010-2012 lobbying total: $18 million; 2011 pollution from coal-fired power plants is contributing to as many as 1,490 deaths, 9,800 asthma attacks, 1,000 hospital and emergency room visits and 508,000 lost work and reduced activity days; estimated total health costs: as high as $11.2 billion.

(All numbers have been rounded.)

The new NRDC report is available online at http://www.nrdc.org/air/price-of-pollution-politics.asp.

To read Pete Altman’s blog post on the report, go to http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available as of 5 p.m. EDT on June 19, 2012 at http://www.nrdc.org.

http://www.nrdc.org/media/2012/120619.asp


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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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