Two words sum up the health impact of electric power plants fueled by the burning of coal: Premature death. More specifically, burning coal has led to a dramatic increase in heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease, asthma, strokes, cancer, and cognitive impairment in children.
Yet, the very name of this week’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending on air pollution demonstrated the disinterest of the congressional body in the health problems caused by the coal industry. The hearing was entitled: HOW EPA REGULATIONS THREATEN AFFORDABLE POWER.
Janet Henry, lawyer for American Electric Power, came to tell the subcommittee that her company just doesn’t have the money to allow low electricity prices, because the regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency are just too expensive.
The truth is that American Electric Power is making loads of money. Its profits last year were 1.2 billion dollars. Apparently, EPA regulations aren’t very onerous at all.
U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich sits on the subcommittee, and had done research before the hearing. He had this to say about American Electric Power:
“One of the witnesses here to testify today represents American Electric Power (AEP), which is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. AEP is also one of our nation’s biggest polluters. Another one of Ohio’s polluters, FirstEnergy Corporation, which owns Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland in my own district, is identified as the nation’s sixth-most harmful plant for low-income communities and communities of color. Thanks in part to AEP and FirstEnergy, the State of Ohio has more coal-fired generating capacity than any other state in the nation. Ohio’s electric sector also has the ignominious honor of ranking FIRST in the amount of toxic air pollution it emitted in 2009, emitting more than 44.5 million pounds of harmful chemicals, which accounted for 65% of the state’s pollution and 12% of toxic pollution from all U.S. power plants. Ohio also ranked THIRD among all states in mercury air pollution from power plants with about 3,980 pounds emitted in 2009, which accounted for 76% of the state’s mercury air pollution and 6% of U.S. electric sector pollution.
AEP has lobbied against the Environmental Protection Agency’s current efforts to regulate power plant pollution, and is pushing legislation to weaken and delay these regulations. I look forward to hearing from AEP today about how they can justify the tragic and destructive side effects that coal-fired power plants wreak upon us, as well as what steps they are taking to curb emissions of toxic air pollution in the United States.”