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Fri Nov 16, 2012, 08:42 PM

Coal Plants Smother Communities of Color

Coal plants place a disproportionate burden on poor and largely minority communities, exposing residents to high levels of pollutants that affect public health, according to a new report led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The report ranks all 378 coal-fired power plants in the United States according to a plant's impact on the health, economics and environment of nearby communities. People living near coal plants are disproportionately poor and minorities, the report found; the six million people living within three miles of those 378 plants have an average per capita income of $18,400 per year; 39 percent are people of color. "The message arising from this report is simple: These polluting, life-compromising coal plants must be closed," the NAACP concluded in its report, Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People.

Coal plants are large emitters of mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide a potent greenhouse gas. Along with contributing to climate change, pollution from coal plants is linked to asthma attacks, heart problems, and other diseases.

Failing grades
The report also found that not all coal plants are equal. The impacts of some plants on the public health of nearby communities are measurably worse than others, the authors said. And more often than not, the most offending plants are located in poor and largely minority communities.

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Reply Coal Plants Smother Communities of Color (Original post)
limpyhobbler Nov 2012 OP
Igel Nov 2012 #1

Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 12:27 PM

1. That's also true about airports.

This was an issue in the '90s, and it went away after it was pointed out that the airports didn't locate to be near minority-majority communities, but minority-majority communities relocated to where real estate prices were lower and one place with cheaper real estate was near airports.

When we were house hunting we looked at cheaper houses. Most were fairly new, built in the last 5-10 years. They were also uncomfortably near coal-fired power plants, most of which weren't new.

"... The most offending plants are located in poor and largely minority communities" is almost certainly true. But is this because the most offending plants were located by planners to be in poor and largely minorities communities, or did urban sprawl and population growth lead mostly minority communities to spring up around the power plants?

No, it doesn't alter the present state of affairs. But it does alter how we impute blame and responsibility.

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