This map shows the facilities with industrial power plants that, according to the EPA, will need to meet emission limits under the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standards
The Toxic Air Burden From Industrial Power Plants
Industrial power plants provide heat and electricity to major industrial facilities like chemical plants and oil refineries.
Industrial power plants are the nation's third largest source of mercury pollution. Their emissions of fine particles—which penetrate deep into people's lungs—kill as many as 8,100 people every year.
Listen to the episode ‘Breaking Down Boilers’ from Earthjustice’s environmental news podcast, EJ90:
A known carcinogen, emissions have been linked to breathing problems and lung disease in some workers.
Can cause developmental delays and adversely impact memory and behavior. It is also linked to cardiovascular and kidney effects, anemia, and weakness of the extremities.
Can cause eye, nose and respiratory tract irritation, ulceration, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
A potent neurotoxin that is linked to lower IQs in young children and other developmental delays. It is so potent that less than one teaspoon can contaminate an entire 20 acre lake.
Also known as fine particulate matter or soot, exposure can harm the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and lead to premature death.
Though smaller than regular plants, industrial power plants are the U.S.'s third largest source of mercury pollution. The dirtiest of these facilities released more than 160 million pounds of toxic air pollutants like mercury, lead, benzene and acid gases in 2010 alone. Earthjustice has worked for more than a decade to reduce health threats from pollution caused by industrial power plants - also known as industrial boilers.
In 2011, under a court-ordered deadline, the EPA issued revised Clean Air Act emission standards for these plants that will save thousands of lives each year and prevent widespread sickness and suffering. Industry groups, including the Koch brothers, SPI: The Plastics Trade Association, and others, have launched an attack on Capitol Hill in an attempt to permanently block these protections. If they succeed, the pollution and subsequent health damage will continue unabated.
The EPA has stated that there are approximately 1,750 industrial power plants nationwide that will need to meet emission limits for hazardous air pollutants under the new standards often referred to as the "boiler MACT". Research by Earthjustice identified that there are 1,753 industrial power plants located at 758 individual facilities in 44 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that will need to meet emission limits.
The baseline emissions of these industrial power plants, according to data from the EPA, exceed:
These numbers illustrate the tremendous capacity of industrial power plants to pollute our air. The owners of these industrial power plants, along with their congressional allies, have sought time and again to kill these standards. Two bills were introduced in 2011—S. 1392 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2250 in the House of Representatives—that would permanently exempt industrial power plants from the Clean Air Act. These bills have also been attached repeatedly as "riders" to unrelated, must-pass budget and payroll tax bills, a disingenuous strategy to undercut badly needed public health protections by trading them off against legislation designed to provide economic relief.
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