Kentucky was ranked first in the country for power plant pollution, with the state's emissions growing by 27 percent — or 10 million pounds — in 2009 and 2010, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found. While Kentucky's emissions have gone up, the rest of the country saw a 19 percent decrease, NRDC said.
Researchers concluded Kentucky power plants emitted 41 million pounds of toxic pollution, accounting "for 78 percent of that type of pollution in the state, and about 13 percent of all U.S. power plants," reports James Bruggers for The Courier-Journal. Ohio was ranked second with 36 million and Pennsylvania third with 31 million.
The Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County, above, run by the Tennessee Valley Authority, was ranked the nation's top power plant polluter in 2010. American Electric Power's Big Sandy plant in Lawrence County was ranked fifth, and the Mill Creek station of Louisville Gas & Electric was seventh.
Officials did not know what to make of the findings. "I am simply going to have to take some time to look at this," said John Lyons, director of the state Division for Air Quality. "The NRDC's numbers for 2010 are almost double what we are getting ready to put in our annual report. Lyons did not say an error had been made but admitted "there is definitely something going on, because we are both using the (same) source (of data)."
Thomas Nord, spokesman for the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District, said emissions may have increased because 2010 was hotter than 2009 and utilities generated more electricity. Ronn Robinson, spokesman for Kentucky Power Co., agreed. "Kentucky is a coal-burning state," he said. "We burn a lot of coal." Also, the economy began to improve in 2010. (Read more)