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New Findings Show Communities of Color Face the Worst Impacts From Dirty Coal Plants

The NAACP found that the six million people living within three miles of our 378 plants have an average per capita income of $18,400 per year; 39 percent are people of color.

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"We have been doing work, we are doing work, and we will continue to do work on our plants," said Susan Olazarria, spokesperson for Midwest Generation, the subsidiary owner of the Crawford plant. Olavarria noted that Midwest Generation already has a fleet of coal plants that meet federal mercury emissions standards that don't go into effect for years.

The Environmental Protection Agency, under the Obama administration, has throttled the coal-powered electricity industry, proposing the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide from power plants and also seeking a 91 percent cut in mercury emissions by 2016. The  rules, proposed in March, would apply to all new power plants but are so steep that coal-fired power plants could only meet the standard by capturing and storing some of their carbon dioxide emissions – a practice too costly to be used commercially today. Natural gas plants can meet the proposed standard without additional equipment.

Coal today provides about 45 percent of the nation's electricity, a declining share that the EPA projects will slide below 30 percent by 2035.


Brett Israel is a researcher, writer and former intern at Environmental Health News.
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