FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2011
Contact: Claire Orphan 708.857.4529
Whitney Pearson 405.826.0241
Oklahoma Citizens Call on EPA to Protect Families from Dirty Coal Pollution
American Lung Association, Sierra Club Demand Safeguards to Reduce Haze, Protect Health
(Oklahoma City) Hundreds of citizens are expected to turn out to EPA hearings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa today and tomorrow to call for protections from coal pollution linked to haze and health problems such as asthma.
EPA has proposed safeguards that would limit the pollutants coal plants can emit, but the coal industry is opposing the safeguards. The American Lung Association and Sierra Club are demanding that the EPA make sure Oklahoma families aren’t put at risk for asthma and other health problems as a result of unchecked pollution. Roughly 100,000 children in Oklahoma suffer from asthma, and hospitalizations in the state due to asthma cost roughly $57.9 million in 2007 alone.
The Sierra Club is also running TV ads on local evening news and cable channels in the state to raise awareness about the harmful health effects of coal on Oklahoma’s children and communities. These ads are a call-to-action for Oklahomans to step up and ask the EPA for the protection they deserve. You can view the ads at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVhK7W4dLQk
"Coal pollution chokes our air with haze, and it chokes our lungs with toxic chemicals," said Sierra Club representative Whitney Pearson. "We deserve clean air and water. The EPA has a responsibility to keep us safe from coal pollution. We don’t need to put our health at risk with outdated, dirty energy. Instead, we could be using clean, homegrown Oklahoma energy like wind, solar and responsibly-extracted natural gas that will create jobs and keep our families and economy healthy."
The hearings address EPA’s proposal to clean up pollution from three of Oklahoma’s oldest and largest coal plants. The Clean Air Act requires states to take steps to modernize pollution controls of older power plants to meet regional haze requirements. A Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) is proposed by the EPA when a State Implementation Plan (SIP) does not adequately address Clean Air Act requirements. Because the EPA found that Oklahoma’s proposed plan would not adequately reduce pollution, the agency is requiring that Oklahoma coal plants, and others, reduce pollutants like sulfur dioxide.
Connie Befort of the American Lung Association said, "Unfortunately, the state does not adequately protect Oklahomans from air pollution. We need EPA to ensure coal companies are not allowed to spew chemicals like mercury and sulfur into the air we all breathe. The citizens of Oklahoma need to be protected against unnecessary pollution and lung disease."
EPA has estimated that in 2015, full implementation of the Regional Haze Rule nationally will prevent 1,600 premature deaths, 2,200 non-fatal heart attacks, 960 hospital admissions, and over one million lost school and work days due to pollution-related illnesses.
"Coal power is dirty, outdated, and dangerous," Pearson said. "It just doesn’t make sense for Oklahoma to use it anymore. The cost of coal is on the rise, and so are the health costs from coal pollution. Oklahoma shouldn’t be left behind as the rest of the nation moves to cleaner, safer, cheaper forms of energy."
WHAT: Oklahoma City EPA Hearing
WHEN: Wednesday, April 13. Open House 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM; Public comments 4:00 Pm to 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: Metro Technology Center, Springlake Campus, Business Conference Center 1900 Springlake Dr. Oklahoma City, OK 73111
WHAT: Tulsa EPA Hearing
WHEN: Thursday, April 14th, 2011: Public Comments from 4:00 - 6:00pm and 7:00 - 9:00pm
WHERE: Tulsa Tech—Riverside Campus, in the Auditorium of the Alliance Conference Center, 801 East 91st Street, Tulsa,Oklahoma 74132
For more information, visit: www.beyondcoalOK.org