Five coal plants in Indiana ranked in the top 100 for both toxic and greenhouse gas pollution, according to a new analysis from the Center for Public Integrity. That’s more “super polluters” than any other state in the country.
The Center for Public Integrity investigation combined rankings from two Environmental Protection Agency data sets: the Toxic Release Inventory and the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
The TRI measures toxic pollution from power plants — chemicals that can cause cancer or respiratory disease.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are released when fossil fuels are burned for energy. They’re the planet warming emissions behind human-induced climate change.
Five coal plants in Indiana ranked in the top 100 for both metrics — more than any other state. Those plants released a combined total of 59 million metric tons of greenhouse gases and 14 million metric tons of toxic pollution.
Indiana-Michigan Power Communications Director Brian Bergsma says their Rockport power plant, which is on the list, does emit a lot of gases because it’s one of the largest plants in the state.
“But proportionally we are far more efficient than other plants throughout the state and the nation,” Bergsma says.
Rockport has reduced its mercury emissions by 80 percent, according to Bergsma.
There’s been little effort at the state level to address pollution concerns. Political analyst Andy Downs says the reason for that is simple.
“The reality is an awful lot of people are employed by the coal industry,” Downs says. “So, when you start talking about limiting the use of coal, you basically start talking about people losing their jobs.”
Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky are the other states with multiple plants on the list.