Memorial to Pittsburgh Area Power Plant Deaths Erected in the Shadow of Elrama Power Plant
Highlighting the deadly impacts of coal-fired power plant emissions on the residents of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan region, Greenpeace today installed 3 foot crosses for every one of the 563 people who die prematurely from power plant pollution every year. The crosses were installed in the Elrama Little League baseball field, just across the fence line from the Elrama power plant. The installation was the first stop on a Greenpeace tour of some of the area’s dirtiest power plants.
© Virginia Lee Hunter/Greenpeace
A report issued last month from Abt Associates, an environmental consulting firm used by the Bush Administration, found that Pennsylvania leads the country in premature deaths from power plant pollution with 1,825. The Pittsburgh area, with 563 annual deaths, ranks third highest in metropolitan areas, eclipsed only by significantly larger populations in New York City and Chicago. The total number of lives shortened by coal plant pollution nationally, 23,600, is greater than drunk driving fatalities or homicides.
"Each cross on the Elrama ball field represents a life cut short by power plant pollution," said Chris Miller, Greenpeace Clean Energy Now! Campaigner. "These deaths could have been prevented by moving away from dirty power plants like Elrama and investing in clean energy like wind and solar, which have no negative health impacts and emit no global warming pollution. These technologies, especially wind power, are affordable now, and Pennsylvania could be a true leader in the wind energy market. Politically, it should be beyond the pale to continue to support dirty power like coal - we need to phase out this and all other fossil fuel energy sources and have all future power demands met by renewable energy."
Instead of prioritizing investment in pollution-free renewable energy, the Bush administration has systematically weakened clean air laws by allowing coal-fired power plants to continue to release tons of pollutants into our air and waterways. Many of the area's power plants were under investigation by the Justice Department for violating the Clean Air Act - investigations that were dropped by the Bush administration. In addition to its negative impacts on health, dirty energy wreaks havoc on the environment, causing global warming, acid rain, and smog.
"Greenpeace's Clean Energy Now! Campaign calls on all presidential candidates to commit to a plan within the first 100 days in office that will insure that 20 percent of the nation's energy comes from renewable sources by 2020 and that will include substantial investment in solar power. This will not only improve the environment and lower health costs associated from dirty power, but it will also create good, well paying domestic jobs that our economy craves.
Greenpeace also used the event to highlight renewable energy as a viable alternative to Pennsylvania's dirty power facilities. The group showcased its Rolling Sunlight solar demonstration vehicle outside the ball field. "There's no reason why people must continue to suffer from life shortening particulate emissions, mercury poisoning, asthma attacks and global warming pollution from dirty energy like coal when clean energy is available now," said Rolling Sunlight driver Angie McIntosh, as she displayed the vehicle's solar capabilities.