Coal / FirstEnergy

Cleveland coal plant harms low-income communities and communities of color

Children playing near smokestacks.

CLEVELAND — “A new national NAACP report, ‘Coal Blooded: Putting Profits over People‘, identifies Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland, as the nation’s sixth-most harmful plant for low-income communities and communities of color, receiving a grade of ‘F’. On Thursday, June 30, NAACP leaders will release the report and urge Cleveland residents to take action.

The report analyzes emissions and demographic factors – including race, income, and population density – to calculate ‘environmental justice scores’ for the nation’s 431 coal-fired power plants. The report’s release coincides with the comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new mercury and air toxics standards, which will limit toxic emissions from power plants.

‘Lake Shore Plant is an egregious example of a nationwide issue – coal power plants that are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color,’ stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. ‘We hope that this report will raise awareness at a critical juncture for reform.’

‘I hope that the injustices laid out in this report inspire residents living in the shadow of Lake Shore Plant to speak out,’ stated NAACP Ohio State Conference Executive Committee member and local resident Jocelyn Travis. ‘This problem requires a multi-faceted response, and it must start from the ground up.”

The report will be released on Thursday, June 30 at a series of events intended to educate the community and encourage affected residents to support the EPA standards through an online form, The events are part of a multi-city teach-in series at the most harmful plants.

Schedule of events:
11:00 am–3:00 pm – Teach-in/lunch (Free Clinic Community Room, 12201 Euclid Ave)
3:00 pm – Press Conference, release of report (Free Clinic)
4:00 pm – Prayer Vigil (Lakeshore Power Plant, 6800 South Marginal Rd)

Lake Shore is located in Glenville, an East Cleveland neighborhood that ranks among the city’s poorest. Over 103,000 people live within three miles of the plant, and six schools lie within one mile. The average income of residents within three miles is $10,866 (51.7% of the state average), and 90.6% are people of color. Proximity to coal emissions can lead to a variety of respiratory diseases, including asthma and bronchitis, and can also cause premature death. According to the Clean Air Task Force, pollution from the Lake Shore plant leads directly to 93 deaths, 140 heart attacks and 1500 asthma attacks each year.

‘Shutting down the 90 plants that scored an ‘F’ would reduce U.S. power production by only 9.2% – which could easily be substituted by increased energy conservation and renewable energy production’ stated NAACP Director of Climate Justice Programs Jacqueline Patterson. “It would also reduce the number of Americans living within three miles of a coal plant by 58.4%, therefore reducing thousands of hospitalizations, deaths, and incidents of illness in the affected communities.”

— press release, NAACP

The report is a joint effort by NAACP, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Indigenous Environmental Network.