The Sierra Club is announcing a big victory for clean air and climate action in the Midwest today:
Today a coalition of citizen groups, states and U.S. EPA announced a landmark settlement agreement with American Electric Power (AEP) requiring AEP to stop burning coal by 2015 at three power plants in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. AEP also agreed to replace a portion of these coal plants with new wind and solar investments in Indiana and Michigan, bringing more clean energy on line to meet the region’s electricity needs. [...]
Coal-fired power plants are the nation’s largest source of mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution, carbon pollution and many other deadly pollutants that can trigger heart attacks and contribute to respiratory problems. According to estimates from the Clean Air Task Force, 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks, and 188 emergency room visits per year will be averted once the Muskingum River, Tanners Creek and Big Sandy power plants stop burning coal.
Aside from the obvious climate and public health benefits, ratepayers in Ohio should be cheering this long-overdue move to get Ohio off its addiction to one source of energy. In 2009, Ohio was getting a ridiculous 84 percent of its energy from coal. That dropped to 78 percent by 2011, but with coal prices rising, natural gas prices plummeting and the cost of wind and solar dropping by the day, diversifying Ohio’s electric portfolio is just good business.
We’ve nearly weaned ourselves off of coal here in Massachusetts, but the Mt. Tom plant outside Holyoke and the Brayton Point station near Fall River remain. (I’m sure it’s just a coincidence remaining coal plants are close to poor, urban areas.)