Kentucky Finishes 4th in Dirty Air

A newly released report says Kentucky has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. You can’t see the particles emitted from coal burning power plants, but they’re thick in Kentucky’s air. That’s according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The NRDC says Kentucky has the fourth dirtiest air in the nation. The group analyzed data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency and ranked states accordingly. John Walke works on clean air policy for the environmental group.

“States that have power produced by coal plants are overwhelmingly responsible for higher levels of toxic air pollution, smog and soot due to the pollution that comes from the coal combustion,” said Walke.

The NRDC says nearly eighty percent of Kentucky’s dirty air comes from power plants. The group says recent efforts from House Republicans to cut the EPA’s budget just harm efforts to clean the air. Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield hasn’t seen the report, but he says removing the EPA’s power and cutting its budget is important.

“Well, it’s important for our state because number one we have a lot of jobs produced from coal. Number two, Kentucky and surrounding states that use a lot of coal have very low electricity rates,” said Whitfield.

Kentucky Democrat John Yarmuth says recent House efforts to undo clean air standards have been misguided.

“You know our first responsibility is to our citizens and to make sure they have access to clean air and water, and food and housing. And you can’t forget that,” said Yarmuth

The NRDC report also ranks Kentucky as the fourteenth biggest emitter of Mercury due to its coal fire powered plants.

For WEKU News, I’m Matt Laslo in Washington, D.C.