On Saturday Governor Tom Corbett’s Department of Environmental Protection will release a tentative plan to reduce the amount of smog pollution produced by large coal plants. However, the Sierra Club is not impressed with the Governor’s efforts.
“Governor Corbett is clearly unconcerned with protecting the health of millions of Pennsylvanians breathing unhealthy air,” said Tom Schuster, Senior Pennsylvania Campaign Representative of the Sierra Club. “There’s an easy and affordable solution to cut dangerous pollution, but Governor Corbett has ignored it, choosing instead to give the largest polluters a free pass to poison the air we breathe.”
The Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy organization, claims that Corbett’s proposal is “weak” and will inevitably fall short of producing any legitimate cuts to the amount of dangerous smog produced by the coal burning process.
“The proposed pollution limits are actually higher than the current rates of pollution at many plants – as much as four times higher in some cases,” said Kim Teplitzky, Deputy Press Secretary for the Sierra Club. “Failing to require coal plants to use the pollution controls they already have, puts a significantly more expensive burden on other industries that will have to install and operate new controls.”
As Governor, the Sierra Club claims that Corbett is responsible for curbing smog emissions in the state, most pressingly in areas designated as nonattainment under the Clean Air Act — meaning that pollution has caused the air quality to dip below national standards. Seventeen counties in Pennsylvania fall under that category, with most of them located in the southwestern and southeastern portions of the state.
“It’s commonsense to make coal plants use the pollution-cutting technology they already have, yet Governor Corbett’s plan fails to do so,” said Joanne Kilgour, Pennsylvania Chapter Director of the Sierra Club. “Cutting pollution from coal plants is an easy fix that will protect our kids’ lungs, prevent frightening and expensive hospital visits and save lives.”
According to the Sierra Club’s research, the portions of Pennsylvania most affected by the coal industry also suffer from the highest rate of asthma related hospitalizations.
“Asthma is the most common chronic health condition among children and the third most common reason for hospitalization,” said Dr. Esther K. Chung, Professor of Pediatrics at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and Nemours. “I see many children with asthma who are unable to play sports or participate in physical activity, and some suffer so severely that they cannot speak and require intensive care at a hospital. Smog contributes to and exacerbates these problems.”
Going forward, this could very well be an issue that one of the four Democratic candidates running for governor will use against Governor Corbett to help their campaigns — especially former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty. Her latest ad touts her experience as a “job-creating environmentalist,” and she has been adamant in her campaign about highlighting the Governor’s shortcomings.