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Toxic Air Burden from Industrial Power Plants (Boilers) Revealed

National map provides locations of unregulated pollution sources
February 23, 2012
Washington, D.C. —

Earthjustice (the law firm for the environment) released a white paper and interactive map today showing the locations and reported baseline emissions from 1,753 industrial power plants across the USA. Industrial power plants are in‐house power plants that burn conventional fuels like coal, biomass, and oil. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently under court order to step in and protect public health from these sources of toxic air pollution.

The map and white paper are available online

“Many people don’t know that major industrial operations often have their own personal power plants, which have not been subject to EPA clean air standards,” said Earthjustice staff attorney Jim Pew. “People who live near industrial power plants pay a disproportionate cost in increased cancer risk, heart attacks, asthma and other respiratory illness. Americans have the right to know where these plants are located and the pollutants they emit. Now they can get this information easily online.”

Though they are usually smaller than power plants that sell electricity to the public, industrial power plants released millions of 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 February 2011, under a court-ordered deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Clean Air Act emission standards for industrial power plants. In December 2011, EPA issue a revised proposal and plans to finalize an updated standard by mid-2012. These standards (often referred to as the "Boiler MACT" rule) will bring IPPs into Clean Air Act compliance like any other power plant, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing widespread sickness, suffering and premature death, especially in communities that need the help most.

The white paper, The Toxic Air Burden from Industrial Power Plants, includes:

  • Health impacts of selected pollutants
  • Top 20 states for boiler emissions of mercury, lead, chromium, hydrochloric acid, PM2.5 (soot)
  • Top 20 facilities for these pollutants
  • Ranking of states with the most industrial boilers
  • An explanation of the research methods

The interactive map shows where these facilities are located from coast-to-coast.

Read the white paper and use the interactive map.

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About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.