Front Porch Blog

NC Will Help Cooper Fight for Clean Air

Last week, the Council of State approved more than $325,000 to cover legal bills for North Carolina’s suit against TVA. The suit was filed by Attorney General Roy Cooper.

A majority of air pollution in the South-Central Appalachians comes from pointsource (smokestack) pollution from other states. Roy Cooper filed suit against the TVA in January, stating that pollution from TVA’s 11 coal-fired power plants in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee disproportionately harms North Carolina, without any economic benefit.

A recent editorial in the Asheville Citizen-Times gave a great perspective on North Carolina’s case, and the state of air quality in North Carolina, Appalachia, and America.

As Cooper rightly noted in responding to Berry[Ed. Note: State Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry voted against allocating money to help the suit], the cost of illnesses associated with air pollution, environmental damage and the loss of tourism dollars to our state (and especially Western North Carolina) as a result of smoggy mountain views is far greater.

As if to reinforce his point, on the same day a Citizen-Times story announced that the daily ozone forecasts have started again.

The story included the information that the American Lung Association gave Buncombe County a “D” for air quality based on data from 2002 to 2004.
During 2002, the county had seven code orange days. Haywood County earned an “F” during the same period with 19 code orange days, according to the Lung Association.

Code orange means that sensitive groups may experience coughing and reduced lung function, which can cause breathing discomfort.

Buncombe County only had one code orange day in 2005. And the county should fare even better in the coming months thanks to a new scrubber already online at the Progress Energy plant and another one scheduled to come online soon.

In 2002, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Clean Smokestacks Act one of the strongest clean air laws in the country. Our utilities, , lawmakers, and citizens all united behind the policy, and it received only 5 dissenting votes from 170 General Assembly members when being passed into law. Cooper’s attempt to clean up the pollution from out-of-state is an extension of this near-unanimous sentiment that North Carolina air quality must improve.

In April, the North Carolina Division of Public Health issued the state’s largest ever fish consumption advisory because of concerns over mercury-contaminated fish. Mercury is a neurotoxin, especially dangerous for unborn babies and children, that is emitted from coal-fired power plants and deposited into waterways before being consumed by fish.
The current fish advisory is notable because it extends the warning for some fish statewide, whereas previously it had been from Interstate 85 east.
Women of childbearing age and children under 15 are advised to stop eating 22 types of fish and to have only one meal per week of another 34 types of fish and seafood.
North Carolina Power Plants account for about 70 percent of the state’s mercury emissions, and the state is considering ways to regulate mercury pollution from its own plants. But as air pollution drifts into WNC from the TVA plants, mercury undoubtedly comes with it…
…Ten states sued the federal government Tuesday in an effort to force the Bush administration to strengthen gas mileage requirement for sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, contending in part that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to conduct a thorough analysis of the impact of gasoline consumption on climate change.
Clearly, Cooper is fighting the good fight and the Council of State did well to support him in it.

I agree 100%. Also, in case you were wondering, these are the members of the “Council of State, which allocated the money for NC’s legal battle.

Council of State
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR – Beverly Perdue
STATE TREASURER – Richard H. Moore
STATE AUDITOR – Les Merritt
COMMISSIONER OF LABOR – Cherie K. Berry
ATTORNEY GENERAL – Roy A. Cooper, III
SECRETARY OF STATE – Elaine F. Marshall
COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE – James E. Long
SUPT. OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION – June Atkinson
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE -Steve Troxler

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