"It's very easy right now to talk about climate change as... theoretical, to talk about the dirtiness caused by coal plants as...aesthetic" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous. "But when you ... actually meet with people in these communities, the stories that they tell you – about their children's lives being diminished, about older people in the communities lives being shortened by the presence of these plants – are disturbing."
Source: Report: Coal Plants Smothering Communities of Color from Climatecentral.org, November 23, 2012 by Brett Israel.
Notes: A recent report by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People, concluded that "Coal plants kill — and low-income communities and communities of color experience the highest mortality burden."
This report ranked all 378 coal-fired power plants in the United States according to each plant's impact on the health, economics and environment of nearby communities. People living near coal plants are disproportionately poor and minorities, the report found; the six million people living within three miles of those 378 plants have an average per capita income of $18,400 per year; 39 percent are minorities.
The NAACP report gave 75 coal plants an "F" grade on their environmental justice scorecard. It found those 75 plants responsible for a heavy pollution burden: 14 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions and 13 percent of all nitrogen oxide emissions from all U.S. power plants.
Unfortunately, the four million people living near those 75 "failing" plants are primarily poor and more isolated communities of color. The average per capita income within three miles of the 75 failing plants is $17,500 and nearly 53 percent of the people are minorities, according to the report.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates coal power plants alone are responsible for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of premature deaths each year. A 2010 report on power plant pollution by the EPA's Clean Air Task Force found coal power plant pollution in the U.S. is responsible for 13,200 premature deaths and 9,700 hospitalizations each year, as well as over $100 billion in monetary damages.
Coal may provide 45 percent of US electricity. However, it is very expensive and deadly, especially for the poor and minorities living next ot the plants in the inter cities.
Image Source: Seth Anderson/flickr