Ga., SC on ‘Toxic 20’ list for dirty air

ATLANTA -- Georgia and South Carolina and other states reliant on electricity from coal-fired power plants earned spots on the Toxic 20 list released Tuesday by a pair of environmental groups.

The National Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility compiled the list based on data in the federal Toxics Release Inventory.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules for restricting mercury and other harmful emissions from the coal-fired plants, and the two groups hope the rules will be enacted.

Two committees of the U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to delay the rules.

In the mean time, Georgia’s own rules have all coal-fired power plants on schedule for review for stricter regulations.

“The pollution control is already well under way, and that’s going to continue for the next four years,” said Jac Capp, chief of the air branch for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

He noted that every large state with coal-fired power plants wound up on the Toxic 20 list, meaning none are doing a significantly better job than Georgia. This state is home to the nation’s largest coal-fired power generator, Georgia Power Co.’s Plant Scherer at Juliette. Construction on new emission-control devices just finished on one unit there and is under way for the other three.

Plus, Georgia Power is replacing an aging coal generator at Plant McDonough in Atlanta with lower-emitting natural gas.

The states on the groups’ list are, in alphabetical order: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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