Friday, November 21, 2008

More EIP Data & Comments

After the full release of the EIP report there was some interesting data released and some very poingnant comments made. A MarketWatch article details some of the highlights and comments. I suggest reading the entire article but some excerpts follow;

The report from the Environmental Integrity Project rates the power plants both in terms of sheer mercury pollution and mercury pollution adjusted per kilowatt hour. The 12 states with the most plants in the top 50 in terms of mercury pollution are Texas (7, including half of the 10 worst), Pennsylvania (5), Alabama, (4, including the worst plant and also 2 of the 10 worst), Georgia (4, including 1 of the 10 worst), Ohio (3), Indiana (3), North Dakota (3), Missouri (2, with 1 of the 5 worst), Kansas (2), North Carolina (2), Wisconsin (2), and Arkansas (2). Minnesota was unique in terms of having one of the 10 worst plants, but no second plant among the 50 worst.
Highlights of the EIP report include the following:

-- Of the top 10 power plant mercury emitters, all but one reported an
increase as compared to 2006.

-- Southern Company's Miller plant, in Jefferson County, Alabama, is
ranked number one in the nation for 2007, reporting nearly a ton of
mercury air pollution in 2007. This represents a nearly 14 percent
increase over the plant's 2006 reported emissions.

-- Texas power plants claim five out of 10 spots among the nation's
highest mercury emitters. Dallas-based Luminant (formerly TXU) has
plants - Martin Lake, Monticello, Big Brown, and Sandow - ranked
the nation's top mercury emitters. Together, these four plants
emitted just over two and a half tons of mercury in 2007 - a
5 percent of the national total.

-- Eight Southern Company plants in Georgia and Alabama are ranked
the top 50 power plant mercury emitters.

Environmental Integrity Project Senior Attorney Ilan Levin, of the EIP Austin, TX office, said: "When the original Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, the electric utility industry persuaded Congress to not impose strict pollution controls on old power plants, because they would soon be replaced by newer state-of-the-art facilities. Yet despite the industry's promises, many of the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants continue to operate. Pollution controls that dramatically reduce emissions are widely available, and already being used at many plants. But, until the public and policymakers hold the electric utility industry to its promised cleanup of the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants, Americans will continue to bear unnecessary health and environmental costs."

Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), said: "Cleaning up our power plant mercury emissions is vital so that women and their children will not be exposed to unacceptable and dangerous levels of toxic mercury and to reduce mercury levels in our fish and waterways. These continued high mercury emissions from Pennsylvania plants clearly demonstrate the need for Pennsylvania's state-specific mercury rule that was adopted in February of 2007. Our rule requires an 80 percent reduction in mercury emissions from power plants by 2010 and a 90 percent reduction by 2015 and does not allow power plants to trade toxic mercury emissions. We hope that we'll see these emissions drop significantly over the next several years."

Cathy DeSoto, PhD, associate professor of psychology, University of Northern Iowa: "It is important to understand where the current scientific debate actually lies. There are no experts who deny that mercury emissions are causing some damage to developing brains and causing drops in IQ - and there is no debate that there is a monetary cost associated with this loss. There is debate within the scientific community about the actual dollar amount associated with the IQ detriments. Furthermore, recent research has specifically documented the type of damage that low levels of mercury exposure cause to developing neurons. This damage occurs even at levels of mercury exposure that would be unlikely to cause harm in an adult; but at levels that a significant portion of the child-bearing population have circulating in their bodies."

National Parks Conservation Association Program Analyst Bart Melton said: "National parks across the U.S. suffer from high concentrations of mercury pollution - a key source of which are coal-fired power plants. At the Great Smoky Mountains, mercury pollution is continually showered over the park, and then works its way up the food chain, threatening the health of park visitors and wildlife. We need to shut off the toxic mercury spigot at coal-fired power plants to keep national park visitors and wildlife healthy."

For links to the full report, the press release and the streaming audio go here.

States Grapple With Realization They Are Among The Dirtiest When It Comes To Mercury

As we reported yesterday the new EIP report had bad news for the nation and bad news for some individual states.

Arkansas - from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Based on emissions at two of its three coal-fired power plants, Arkansas is among the nation’s “dirty dozen” states when it comes to mercury pollution, says a group founded by a former Environmental Protection Agency official.
According to a project report issued Thursday, Independence ranked 30 th nationwide in total pounds of mercury emissions in 2007, belching 596 pounds of the toxic metal into the air. That’s a 16. 3 percent increase over its emissions in 2006. The White Bluff facility ranked 43 rd nationally with 518 pounds of emissions — down 6. 6 percent since 2006, the report states.

SWEPCO’s Flint Creek plant near Gentry was not listed among the top 50.

Independence and White Bluff are both Entergy plants and James Thompson defended Entergy's environmental efforts. Some excerpts from the Arkansas News Bureau follow;

Entergy Arkansas spokesman James Thompson acknowledged the listing but said both plants were operating within federal and state emission limits, at levels that do not pose significant health hazards.

Thompson said Entergy was the first utility in the nation to voluntarily stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in 2000 and has committed to do so through 2010. Also, he said Entergy is among the top 10 cleanest electricity generators with its balance of sources, including 80 percent from its nuclear power plant near Russellville.

"We've done everything that's been asked of us plus more from a voluntary standpoint in cutting the emissions," Thompson said.

"We can't simply eliminate the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity - coal here in Arkansas accounts for about 20 percent of our generation," he said. "But we maintain a balance between reliability, cost and environmental concerns. We're doing what we can do and what we are being told to do by both federal and state regulators."

Alabama - from The Birmingham News

Alabama Power's coal-fired plant in west Jefferson County released more mercury into the air in 2007 than any other power plant in the country, according to a report released Thursday by the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project.

And the company's Shelby County plant ranked No. 8 nationally in mercury emissions for 2007, according to EIP's study of emissions information in the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory report.

Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman said scrubbers being installed at all of the company's coal-fired plants will significantly reduce those emissions in the coming years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New EIP Report Shows Very Little Progress In Mercury Emissions, In Fact We Are Going The Wrong Way

The new Environmental Integrity Project report shows most of the 50 dirtiest coal fired EGUs have actually increased emissions since 2006. The full report will be broadcast live on a two way teleconference at 1:00PM ET.

Some highlights of the report include the "Dirty Dozen", the 12 states generating the most mercury emissions. They are Texas, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Kansas, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

An excerpt from a MarketWatch article follows with more details of how to join the conference call or listen to a streaming audio replay.

Deadly mercury pollution levels have actually risen since 2006 at the majority of the 50 worst coal-fired power plants in the United States, according to a major new report from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).

The report rates the power plants both in terms of sheer mercury pollution and mercury pollution adjusted per kilowatt. [...] The worst plant was found in Alabama. Texas accounts for five of the 10 dirtiest plants in terms of mercury emissions.
The EIP report discusses ways in which mercury removal is achievable. It also points out how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has backed off from strict power plant mercury regulation in the past several years.

News event speakers will be: Environmental Integrity Project Counsel Ilan Levin, of the Austin, TX office; Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture); and a representative of the Southern Environmental Law Center, which operates in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

TO PARTICIPATE: You can join this live, phone-based news conference (with full, two-way Q&A) at 1 p.m. ET on November 20, 2008 by dialing 1 (800) 860-2442. Ask for the "EIP mercury report" news event.

CAN'T PARTICIPATE?: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the Web at as of 6 p.m. ET on November 20, 2008.