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8 Utilities Kill 5,900 Each Year
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Resource: Asthma and Poor Air Quality: A Deadly Mix.

A complete copy of the report is available at http://www.rffund.org.

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2002
Contact: Rob Kaplan
202-478-6130
mobile 202-422-5019

Report Estimates Pollution from Eight Utilities Leads to Nearly 6,000 Premature Deaths Yearly

-----------

Former EPA Official Will Form Environmental Integrity Project

Pollution from eight utility companies cited by the Justice Department in 1999 and 2000 for violating the Clean Air Act leads to nearly 6,000 premature deaths yearly, according to a report released today. The analysis also estimates that pollutants from these companies lead to 140,000 asthma attacks and 14,000 cases of acute bronchitis every year.

The study was prepared by Abt Associates (http://www.abtassoc.com), one of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) primary technical consultants on clean air. It is based on likely emissions in 2007 considering expected reductions under the federal government's current acid rain program.

Eric V. Schaeffer, who was chief of civil enforcement for the EPA until he resigned last month, released the report (Click here for more about Schaeffer and his resignation). Schaeffer, saying lapses in environmental enforcement is a growing threat to public health, announced plans to form the Environmental Integrity Project, a new non-profit project that will advocate for stricter enforcement.

"This report shows how the Bush Administration's failure to enforce the Clean Air Act is a serious threat to public health," said Schaeffer. "Many children and families suffer the misery of asthma, bronchitis and even premature death because of the pollution coming from these eight utilities. From my experience inside the EPA I know that these companies would be a lot closer to cleaning up their acts if the White House could find the courage to say no to the energy lobbyists and enforce the law."

The data are broken down into state and utility company totals. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia are estimated to have the highest numbers of premature deaths - more than 200 per year for each state -- due to the emissions of the eight utilities. The state with the highest estimated mortality rate --- 550 deaths - is Pennsylvania.

The largest numbers of estimated premature deaths are attributed to the emissions of the two largest utilities on the list, American Electric Power, with 1400 deaths, and the Southern Company, with 1200 deaths.

The data is also cross tabbed to illustrate the health effects each utility has on each state. For example, the report states that facilities operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are estimated to be responsible for 54 premature deaths, 43 cases of chronic bronchitis and 1500 asthma attacks in North Carolina each year.

The eight companies are American Electric Power (AEP), Cinergy, Duke, Dynergy, First Energy, SIGECO, Southern Company, and the TVA.

The analysis was based on modeling from epidemiological data nationwide and the correlation between emissions and respiratory illnesses. Schaeffer said the study was completed using the "most conservative numbers in the range of possible assumptions." He said this is the first report to estimate the health impact of emissions from all plants owned by these eight utilities, but its numbers are consistent with earlier reports from the non-profit advocacy group Clean Air Task Force, examining the impacts of pollution from a subset of plants.

The Abt Associates report considers the health effects of particulate matter caused by SOx emissions from the 81 facilities operated by the eight companies. Effects of ground level ozone are not considered in the report.

The emissions from these companies are at the heart of the current debate over clean air policy. When Schaeffer resigned last month, he said in a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman that the agency "was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" in regard to the lawsuits, because the White House was sending signals to the companies that clean air laws would be weakened. Schaeffer contends that those companies who were ready to settle and begin taking steps to cut their emissions "walked away from the table" because of those signals.

Schaeffer said the Administration's alternative to enforcement of the Clean Air Act, the so-called Clear Skies Proposal, is insufficient.

"When the EPA says the Clear Skies proposal will clean the air, ask them for their numbers," said Schaeffer, who spent 12 years at the agency. "They have yet to release an analysis that shows Clear Skies will get anywhere near the air pollution reductions expected by enforcing current law."

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) will be a project of the Rockefeller Family Fund, a public charity based in New York City. Schaeffer said EIP would combine substantive research with grass roots advocacy to achieve better enforcement of environmental laws.

A complete copy of the report is available at http://www.rffund.org.

end

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