Between 2,700 and 5,700 deaths a year at a cost of $23 to $47 billion can be attributed to pollution from 51 of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the United States. Even using the most conservative estimate, the estimated cost to society of the premature deaths caused by 18 of the power plants actually exceeded the retail value of the electricity generated by each facility in 2011.
Coal-fired power plants are a major source of this pollution, which is caused by sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and unburned particles released from boiler stacks. While fine particle exposure is starting to decline in many areas as utilities install scrubbers and other equipment to meet long-delayed Clean Air Act requirements, some plants have yet to install the advanced pollution controls that have been commercially available for many years.
Our report reviews U.S. coal-fired power plants with the largest emissions of sulfur dioxide in 2010 and 2011 that do not yet have plans to install or upgrade scrubbers. Our results suggest that the social cost of many of the dirtiest plants far outweighs the value of the energy they produce.
For a copy of the press release, click here.
For the report, click here.
To hear streaming audio of the press conference, click here.