July 14, 2016

New Report: Power Plant Pollution Has Lethal Consequences for Our Communities

In 2015, dirty power plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio were responsible for a combined total of more than 4,400 deaths and more than $38bn in health impacts

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, NextGen Climate America is releasing a new report conducted by PSE Healthy Energy, an independent energy science research institute. This new study, entitled “Our Air: Health And Equity Impacts of Ohio and Pennsylvania’s Power Plants” finds that dirty power plants have devastating consequences for communities in their states and nationwide, including 4,400 deaths and $38 billion in health impacts in 2015 alone. These coal and natural gas power plants are disproportionately located in vulnerable and low income areas across these two states.

“Fossil fuel pollution is having devastating impacts on communities across the country—and this report is a sobering reminder of the consequences of inaction,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “We know that in communities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania, a just transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 will save lives, create thousands of jobs and help avert climate disaster.”

According to this new report, communities with environmental hazard challenges and low socioeconomic status are most likely to be affected—positively and negatively—by shifts in energy generation. Increased energy efficiency and generation from renewable energy could reduce these burdens by reducing pollution from coal and natural gas power plants.

The reports also find Ohio and Pennsylvania both have the ability to improve public health and environmental justice through their implementation of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. By targeting carbon reductions at plants with high emission rates for multiple pollutants, Ohio and Pennsylvania can achieve carbon goals and public health benefits.

As states make plans to cut carbon and address climate pollution, they should prioritize cutting pollution from the dirtiest plants, engaging with residents in these hardest-hit areas, and investing in clean energy that will benefit communities that have historically borne the greatest burden from pollution.

A recent report from ICF International found that investing in clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions would add more than 1 million jobs by 2030 and nearly 2 million by 2050 in the United States. By reducing emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, the United States would also increase GDP by up to $290 billion and raise household incomes.