A coalition of conservation, faith, and public-health organizations, including the Sierra Club’s Coal Free Washington campaign, Earth Ministry, Earthjustice, the National Parks Conservation Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility, hosted a coordinated series of events this morning, calling attention to Washington state’s largest single source of pollution, TransAlta Corp.’s dirty coal-fired power plant in Centralia.
People rallied in Seattle and Vancouver this morning and further events are scheduled in Spokane and Lacey this evening, to urge the state to make TransAlta take responsibility for the serious harm the plant does to Washington’s air and water, and thus public health. The coal plant is Washington’s leading source of global warming, toxic mercury and nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.
“This dirty, old coal plant has polluted the air of our cherished national parks and harmed our health for too long," said Janette Brimmer for Earthjustice. “On this Day of Action, let’s redouble efforts to hold TransAlta accountable for its unsafe pollution affecting citizens and their children, and demand that it stop threatening our incredible natural resources.”
Haze from the plant’s nitrogen oxide pollution mars and blocks views of treasured national parks and wilderness areas. These NOx emissions will be the subject of a public hearing scheduled for tonight in Lacey, at which the Department of Ecology will take input on a proposed plan to address haze pollution.
“Federal and state authorities project that under Washington’s regional haze plan, air pollution will increase—not decrease—over the next decade, especially in protected areas including North Cascades National Park and Glacier Peak Wilderness,” said National Parks Conservation Association regional director Sean Smith. “The state must ask for a reasonable and necessary 90-percent reduction in haze pollution. Anything less would make no difference.”
In addition to damaging air quality and the environment, TransAlta’s dirty coal plant threatens public health.
“Nitrogen oxide emissions cause respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis,” said Dr. Steven Gilbert, who chairs Washington State Physicians for Social Responsibility. “They aggravate existing heart disease and damage lung tissue. They even contribute to premature death.”
As the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Washington, the Centralia facility is the primary focus of the Sierra Club’s Coal Free Washington campaign, which has fought to hold TransAlta accountable for its harmful pollution.
“Sept. 28, 2010, will be seen as major milepost in the TransAlta pollution saga,” said Sierra Club senior campaign representative Doug Howell. “People across state have said ‘enough is enough.’ This corporation continues to enjoy a state tax subsidy even though the reason for the subsidy no longer exist. It secured a weak agreement on reducing its toxic mercury. Now TransAlta wants a nitrogen oxide standard that will actually make haze worse! TransAlta needs to know that we will protect our people and parks, not its pollution profits.”
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