Coal / FirstEnergy

Plain Dealer fell for spin on coal plants

Stuart Greenberg is the executive director of Environmental Health Watch.

CLEVELAND — “The Jan. 30 editorial ‘Coal plants’ loss will hurt Ohio‘ blames EPA air pollution regulations.

Regulations did not close those plants; FirstEnergy did. It was the company’s business decision not to upgrade the outdated facilities. FirstEnergy fought for 20 years to resist regulations and now complains (along with The Plain Dealer) that it did not have enough time to comply. Regulations provide a handy PR hook to keep the heat off of them.

Other utilities were proactive, upgraded their pollution controls and improved public health — creating jobs in designing, fabricating, installing and maintaining the equipment. FirstEnergy, instead, fought the rules and poisoned Ohio’s air.

Pollution-control equipment is an ordinary business expense — like the cost of raw materials and executive salaries. It is not a frill that can be delayed when times are hard.

The hardships of dirty air, like the hardships of jobs and taxes lost from plant closings, are real and painful. Scientists estimate that annually, nationwide, the air pollution rules will prevent tens of thousands of deaths, heart attacks, cancers, developmental disabilities and asthma cases.

How about an editorial titled ‘Coal plants’ loss will help Ohio’?”

— Stuart Greenberg, letter to the editor, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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