Earlier today First Energy announced the retirement of four northeast Ohio coal plants, noting that they are too old to meet modern emissions standards for mercury and other toxic chemicals. The oldest plant that is retiring, Cleveland’s Lake Shore plant, was built over 100 years ago.
Environment Ohio State Policy Advocate Julian Boggs applauded the move. “The year is 2012 – and yet the same coal plants that were powering the first incandescent bulbs are still powering our iPads. It’s high time we began the shift to a cleaner energy future. Today’s announcement by FirstEnergy marks the transition into a new era as utility companies begin to account for the growing cost of outdated fossil fuel technologies.”
“This announcement from FirstEnergy is great news for citizens of northeast Ohio. The retirement of aforementioned four coal plants means reduced emissions of toxic chemical pollutants, improved air quality, and ultimately, healthier communities,” said Tomas Tamulis, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at Kent State University.
For decades, the coal industry, many utilities and their allies in Congress and past administrations have successfully delayed cutting mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants to protect public health, even though technology to control toxic air pollution is widely available, and already being used by some power plants.
Power plants are the largest single source of mercury pollution in the U.S., and exposure to mercury and other air toxics is linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and premature death. The four Ohio plants – Eastlake, Lake Shore, Ashtabula, and Bay Shore emitted a combined 443 lbs of mercury into the air in 2010.1
Right now, mercury pollution is so widespread that one in ten American women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her blood to put her baby at risk, should she become pregnant.
Environment State is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to protect the places we love and the environmental values we share.