Beaver County residents who live in the area around First Energy's power plant in Shippingport, PA are coming forward with health problems that they believe are related to the black soot that has been raining down upon them for some time now. Last week KDKA news ran a story about a young girl who lost her hair after the power plant's "black rain" landed on her and the surrounding area. First Energy is typically only fined $25,000 for such infractions. Talk about injustice!
Despite spending millions of dollars on "scrubbers", the Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport is still among the dirtiest polluting power plants in the United States. Newsflash to the energy companies, their investors, and the politicians and regulators who continue to make excuses for harmful polluters like First Energy: COAL IS KILLING US! Burning coal has long been known to release toxic emissions such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), various oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and it is responsible for the water in our region having one of highest concentrations of mercury.
The results of coal fired power plant pollution on our health have been conclusive for a long time now, so where is the justice? The first place we need to start is a stricter regulations on power plant emissions in the Federal Clean Air Act. We need to start seeing stiffer penalties for violations of the act, but if First Energy's continuous violations only result in $25,000 fines, it is clear that the Clean Air Act needs an overhaul. The recent $5 billion settlement between the nation's biggest utility, AEP, and the EPA, 8 states, and 13 environmental groups, was monumental and it gives us some hope for sweeping changes to regulation written for the people rather than the energy industry. Let's hope this set's the stage for bigger fines and stronger regulations for power plant pollution.
It's hard to believe that we are still struggling with this issue, since the detrimental effects of coal pollution has been known for years now, but alas, thats what we get when we elect congressmen who prioritize the interests of the coal and electric utilities over the interests and health of their constituents. Please remember that we can change things by voting for and electing public servants who truly believe in their duty to perform public service. Good people who care about the environment and the need for renewable energy are running for offices statewide - let's make sure they win in 2008.