Pollution Patterns and Public Health Impacts of U.S Electric Utilities
Regional Growth and Exposure to Nearby Coal Fired Power Plant Emissions will soon be published in Regional Science and Urban Economics. The public health consequences of corporate emissions hinge on how many people live near polluters. Coal fired power plants emit high levels of air pollution per unit of power generated. A comparison of emissions factors (pounds of emissions per megawatt hour of power generation) based on year 2004 data reveals that the average coal fired power plant emits six times as much nitrogen oxide and more than twelve times as much sulfur dioxide as the average non-coal fired power plant. The dirtiest power plants are disproportionately concentrated in the Midwest and South. As of 2004, there are 4,839 power plants in the United States. Just over 53% of the nations’ electric utilities are located in the Mid West and South. Of the top 100 dirtiest power plants, based on annual sulfur dioxide emissions, 88% of them are located in the Mid West and South. In the Western region, where 29% of the nation’s power plants are located, only 1 of the top 100 dirtiest power plants is located there. As the U.S population has moved away from the Midwest towards the West, population exposure has declined.
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Published: Tuesday, July 08, 2008