According to the American Lung Association, Houston has one of the poorest air qualities in the nation. It’s no secret that Houston has refineries next door to neighborhoods along the ship channel. Within these communities, entire families live and their children go to school breathing air ridden with all kinds of pollutants. The ALA estimates there to be more than 96,000 children at risk for pediatric asthma, based on recent census data. Could this be because Harris County has such unhealthy air? The ALA gave Harris County an “F” grading, based on annual average ozone levels.
Businesses and refineries that emit pollutants in the Houston area have rarely stayed under the EPA limit, if at all. In neighboring Matagorda County the potential for air pollution emitted by the proposed White Stallion coal-fired power plant will make it harder still for Houston to achieve clean air. If this coal-fired power plant is allowed to become fully operational, the quality of air in Houston will have even more difficulty staying under federal limits.
In a health impact study conducted by MSB Energy Associates on the proposed White Stallion coal plant, emissions could add more than 400 cases of chronic bronchitis. This pollution may exacerbate the asthma of about 13,000 who already live with the condition. The most chilling effect is that there will be 630 deaths directly attributed to the pollutants emitted by this coal plant. This could be the death of a parent, a caretaker, or a child.
Another startling number to look at is the health care costs of such a plant. Although the plant will provide funding to Bay City’s schools, the total estimated cost of health care due to air pollutants is more than $5 billion! Already in hard times, we as Texans simply cannot afford a new coal plant.
Houstonians, please contact Mayor Parker and urge her to continue her support for clean air. Tell our mayor that we can’t afford a new coal plant, to say NO to White Stallion.
– Kat Herrera, Beyond Coal Intern
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Kat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged air, Air pollution, air quality, american lung association, asthma, health, health effects, houston, lung disease, mayor parker, Public health, White Stallion
Tackling Childhood Asthma Not Coal Industry Priority After All
No more My Little Pony inhalers in stock
Contact: email@example.com, (314) 472-5539
A charitable initiative by the world’s largest coal company to provide free “novelty-themed” inhalers to asthmatic children may have seemed for a moment like a (somewhat misguided) breath of fresh air, coming as it did from an industry whose emissions are directly linked to childhood asthma, and which is fighting to gut clean air legislation that would save children’s lives.
Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org) is purported to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler” were particular favorites). The site also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication (about 5%-20% of the cost) for families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant. It featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a thorough condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.
It was, of course, a hoax, and it was aimed at Peabody Coal, which is lobbying ferociously against new pollution standards for power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), standards the agency says will prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma each year in the United States. Peabody spent over $6 million lobbying Congress last year, and the industry has created a dizzying array of fake “grassroots” front groups to distort the public debate and fight legislation.
(Meanwhile, a new study by the American Lung Association notes that coal-fired power plants produce more hazardous air pollution in the United States than any other source, with the pollution killing 13,000 people a year. Coal-ash disposal alone increases risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses due to exposure from heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury.)
The Coal Cares™ hoax was devised by a group called Coal is Killing Kids (CKK), a small environmental and public health group that aims to challenge Big Coal’s expensive lobbying against sensible updates to the Clean Air Act. “We don’t have their millions, but we do have a knack for incredibly tasteless jokes,” said Veronica Tomlinson, a pediatrician and member of CKK. CKK worked with the Yes Lab, which is a project of The Yes Men to help activist groups carry out media-savvy creative actions on their own.
“Sure, it’s kind of tasteless to say that ‘Bieber’ inhalers are a solution to childhood asthma,” said Janet Bellamy, a spokesperson for CKK. “But it’s a great deal more tasteless to cause that asthma in the first place, as coal-fired power plants have been proven to do.” Added Justin V. Bond, another spokesperson for CKK: “It’s even more tasteless to disproportionately kill poor people.” Coal-fired power plants are very often built in areas populated by low-income citizens, who then bear the brunt of the health effects.
“People may laugh at our sick jokes,” said Bellamy, “but they also understand the real health impacts of burning coal. That’s exactly what the coal industry doesn’t want people to think about, because if enough of us were aware of it, we would shut these plants down once and for all.”