Coal Plant Emitting Pollution Photo from Shutterstock

As part of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency has implemented rules that has forced coal and gas companies to either close down high-polluting plants or retrofit them to meet air safety standards. However some energy companies are refusing to comply and a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council has revealed that eight leading U.S. utilities, known as the “Gang of Eight” has spent millions of dollars lobbying and litigating to block, weaken or delay major Clean Air Act safeguards.

The report from the National Resource Defense Council titled “The Price of Pollution Politics” states the “Gang of Eight” has been attempting to undermine the regulations while their coal-fired power plants have “emitted enough pollution to contribute to nearly 10,400 deaths”.

So who are the “Gang of Eight”? Well, according to the report, they are AEP, Ameren, DTE Energy, Energy Future Holdings, FirstEnergy, GenOn, PPL and Southern Company—and according to the NRDC, their combined economic toll on America (based on a widely-accepted model that links air pollution to adverse health consequences) is a staggering $78 billion.

“The ‘Gang of Eight’ utilities are putting their profits over protecting kids and communities from deadly and dangerous air pollution,” said Pete Altman, climate and clean air campaign director at NRDC in a statement. “Without these health protections from the Clean Air Act, we will see more premature deaths, asthma attacks and other illnesses every year, together with billions of dollars in estimated health costs that go with them. We want to see these companies focus their money on cleaning up pollution rather than using litigation and lobbying to delay important improvements in clean air protections. ”

The NRDC has also received the backing of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility, whose executive director Catherine Thomasson MD added: “Coal pollutants contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases. The damage they do to health is severe and widespread. It’s vital that these dirty emissions be reduced.  If not, thousands of Americans will needlessly suffer illnesses and premature deaths.”

To find out how much each company has spent on blocking these regulations, read the full report here. 

+ Natural Resource Defense Council


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