For Immediate Release
After EPA Rejection of Weak Missouri Air Pollution Proposal, 600 Missourians Speak Out In Support of Protecting Communities from Dangerous Sulfur Dioxide
EPA Comment Period on Process to Designate Parts of St. Charles County and Franklin County as Failing Air Quality Standards Ends 3/31
LABADIE, M.O. - Today, nearly 600 comments from Missouri citizens were delivered to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and many U.S. Representatives voicing support for steps to designate parts of St. Charles and Franklin Counties as failing to attain air quality standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution.
The main sources of SO2 pollution are coal-fired power plants. Ameren operates three coal-fired power plants without modern pollution controls in the St. Louis metro area, including Ameren’s Labadie coal-fired power plant in Franklin County. Pollution controls that have been available for decades could reduce the Labadie plant's SO2 emissions by about 98 percent. Ameren’s Labadie coal-fired power plant is the largest source of SO2 pollution in the state, and one of the largest sources in the country.
In February, the U.S. EPA issued a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon indicating the agency’s intention to reject the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) earlier weak recommendation for the area.
“The public health tragedy and state failure in Flint, Michigan prove that it is more important than ever for state agencies and public officials to be vigilant about protections for public health,” said Patricia Schuba with the Labadie Environmental Organization. “DNR had the data that clearly showed there is a public health issue attributable to Ameren’s coal pollution, but it chose to stand with industry rather than people. We’ve spoken out to the EPA and our state leaders so they know they have our support to do what’s right.”
The U.S. EPA is required to make a final decision by July 2016 about SO2 air pollution around the Labadie coal plant, and was accepting recommendations from the state until fall of 2015. In September 2015, DNR made a disappointing recommendation to designate the area as “unclassifiable,” despite the agency’s own modeling data that showed clear SO2 pollution violations.
“Ameren has failed to install well-proven, modern pollution controls at Labadie while DNR disregarded EPA requirements for classifying the area as polluted. We thank the EPA for protecting the health of Missourians and we urge public officials to stand up for Missouri’s health too,” said Andy Knott, Senior Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Missouri.
Exposure to sulfur dioxide pollution from coal plants and other sources for as little as five minutes can cause lung function impacts, asthma attacks, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Children and elderly adults with asthma are particularly at risk for adverse health effects from short-term sulfur dioxide pollution exposure.
The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.