Sunday, August 18, 2019

Whats Power Worth? :: essays research papers fc

What’s Power Worth?   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  When we think about air pollution and its sources we generally call to mind the things we see and smell daily. We recall the stench of diesel fumes, the plumes of automobile exhaust, or maybe the belching smoke from factories. Instead of these common culprits, maybe we should instead think about the light switch, the computer, the television, or maybe our air conditioners. We use these items everyday without a thought to the possible ramifications. These familiar household items contribute more to air pollution in our community than all of the aforementioned polluters combined. Their use requires electricity and that electricity is provided by power plants.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Electricity producing power plants are the largest source of air pollution nationwide (Izaak). More than half of the nation’s power plants produce their electricity by burning coal. These coal-fired plants in particular are responsible for the majority of the most dangerous pollutants emitted by the electric power industry. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal-fired plants generate, â€Å"96 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 93 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions, 88 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, and 99 percent of the mercury emissions† emitted by the entire power industry (sierraclub).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The power industry’s emissions result in ozone smog, reduced visibility conditions, and acid rain. Additionally, their released mercury is toxic and is absorbed by humans through the consumption of fish. â€Å"More than 70 percent of fish advisories issued [are] for mercury contamination† (sierra club). Mercury can have devastating health consequences for children and women of childbearing age. According to the American Lung Association, â€Å"Children are the most susceptible to the detrimental effects posed by air pollutants [†¦]. In Virginia, 1,256,936 children live within 30 miles of a power plant† (Clear). These close-in areas feel the greatest health impacts.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The environmental and human health hazards produced by coal-fired power plants are not a new revelation. The Government recognized decades ago the serious impact of all fossil fuel burning industries. Finally, in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed. Later that same year Congress passed the Clean Air Act with the intention of significantly reducing airborne pollutants. According to Federal officials, in the past 35 years â€Å"emissions of pollutants have dropped 51 percent nationwide† (Springston). Unfortunately, when the Clean Air Act was created, a loophole was included that â€Å"grand fathered† the electric industry. Pre-existing plants were exempted because Congress believed that their useful life was only 30 to 40 years.

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