Ohio and Kentucky top list of power plant polluters

(FOX19) - Finding it hard to breathe?

An environmental group says that's no surprise for parts of the Tri-State because Ohio and Kentucky top the list for the biggest polluting power plants.

The Natural Resources Defense Council released a report today ranking Kentucky #1 and Ohio #2. It's not just bad for Mother Nature, the organization says, but has an effect on our health and the economy.

In Ohio, the Muskingum River Plant is the biggest culprit when it comes to pollution, according to the report. The plant is located near Beverly, Ohio, in Washington County. The NRDC blames the plant for releasing 6.5 million pounds of toxic material into the air in 2010, making it the third worst polluting power plant in the entire country.

Mercury is among the toxins released from the plant.

To get a balanced view of the situation, we also went to owner American Electric Power's website to see what it said about the issues with the plant. The company doesn't deny the Muskingum River Plant is a problem. Rather, their beef is with the Environmental Protection Agency, arguing the federal government isn't giving the company enough time to upgrade the nearly 60-year-old power plant. So it's going to shut down in 2014.

AEP also points out that in February it started-up A new power plant in Dresden, Ohio, about 1.5 hours up the Muskingum River. It's a lot cleaner because it burns natural gas.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is home to the worst power plant in the country, in terms of pollution.

It's the Tennessee Valley Authority's Paradise Fossil Plant near Drakesboro, in Western Kentucky.

The Natural Resources Defense Council blames it for releasing 7.8 million pounds of toxic material in 2010, though it released less mercury than the Muskingum River Plant in Ohio.

Those new, tougher EPA standards that American Electric Power is fighting are set to go into effect in 2015, according to the NRDC. If that's allowed to happen, the environmental group argues that in the very next year, 2016, "as many as 11,000 premature deaths…130,000 asthma attacks…5,700 hospital visits" and 4,700 heart attacks will be avoided.

Fewer health problems from power plant pollution would save $37-$90 billion a year in health costs, the NRDC estimates. The environmental group says it would also prevent American workers from having to use up to 540,000 sick days each year.

But those new EPA rules are very controversial. Many conservatives argue they could end-up putting a lot of people out of work, though supporters of the new environmental regulations say that claim is overblown.

It's an issue that could come into play as Ohio prepares to vote for candidates for the White House and U.S. Senate.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), on the short list to be Gov. Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, voted for a measure that would've rolled-back the EPA's new mercury and air toxic rules.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who's running for re-election this year, voted to keep the EPA's new rules.


More Information:

You can read the NRDC's full report here: http://www.nrdc.org/air/files/toxic-power-presentation.pdf

American Electric Power's arguments against the EPA's new power plant pollution regulations are here: http://www.aep.com/environmental/neweparules/

Environmental Protection Agency's "fact sheets" on the new rules: http://www.epa.gov/mats/actions.html

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