Washington, DC – Environmental Defense Fund, Moms Clean Air Force, and M.J. Bradley & Associates today unveiled a new interactive map with detailed information about the fossil fuel-fired power plants that are the source of smog-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx) pollution around the country. The new analysis highlights the need for EPA to strengthen NOx air pollution limits to protect human health and for the owners of these power plants to invest in clean, affordable zero-emitting power.
The map shows that many coal-fired power plants in the U.S. are discharging NOx pollution at levels above what is achievable through available modern pollution limits. People can search the map to learn about those high-polluting power plants near their communities, and to find out about the impact of the air pollutant on low-income communities and communities of color.
“Smog is a serious health threat to people, and many coal plants in the U.S. are releasing smog-forming pollution at levels that far exceed modern pollution limits,” said EDF General Counsel Vickie Patton. “We need EPA to do more to protect millions of people from smog pollution, so we created this map to help people learn about NOx pollution near their communities and to help our leaders create stronger safeguards against smokestack air pollution. We hope the power companies that own these high polluting coal plants will invest in clean, affordable zero-emitting power plants that save lives and create jobs.”
“It is crucial for families to be able to see high-polluting facilities mapped out clearly. This map helps us see how racial and socioeconomic inequity relate to NOx pollution from power plants, and how far we still have to go to achieve justice in every breath,” said Moms Clean Air Force Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch. “Far too many power plants are still routinely spewing massive amounts of harmful pollution into our air. With this tool, families will better understand where dangerous air pollution is coming from, so we can raise our voices to make it stop. Every child has the right to breathe clean air.”
NOx pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants is a main component in soot and smog, which cause asthma attacks, heart and lung diseases, and premature deaths. Smog is especially dangerous for children, the elderly, people who work outdoors, and low-income communities and communities of color. Smog threatens the health of people who live near a pollution source and it also drifts across borders and threatens people in downwind areas.
EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule sets standards that help limit NOx pollution. The standards provide some protection for people who live near dirty power plants and for those in downwind states who struggle with smog blowing across their borders, but NOx pollution from power plant smokestacks is still a serious threat because EPA needs to do more to limit NOx air pollution. More than one-third of all coal-fired power plant capacity operating today in the Eastern U.S. and Texas have not yet installed modern pollution controls for NOx, and power plants that have pollution controls sometimes don’t operate them.
M.J. Bradley & Associates developed the new interactive map, using EPA’s pollution data and Environmental Justice Screening tool, for EDF and Moms Clean Air Force. It can be set to show the NOx pollution rate, top NOx polluters, the year or season of NOx pollution, and the type of fuel source for power plants in specific areas. It can also be set to show the number of power plants that are in or near low-income communities and communities of color.