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Nevada organization calls for greater Latino engagement in politics; Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to change course on transgender rights; Nebraska Tribal College builds opportunity 'pipelines,' STEM workforce.'

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House Republicans deadlock over funding days before the government shuts down, a New Deal-style jobs training program aims to ease the impacts of climate change, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared at donor events for the right-wing Koch network.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

Report Counts Deadly Impacts of Coal-Fired Power Plants

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Monday, March 20, 2023   

Thousands of lives are cut short every year because of air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Wyoming and across the United States, according to a new Sierra Club report.

Rob Joyce, energy organizer for the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club, said harmful toxins released from burning coal have been linked to a number of health issues, including increased asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and in severe cases can contribute to an increase in heart attacks and premature deaths over time.

"The report also shows that while those living closest to the coal plants typically bear the worst impacts, once those pollutants are in the air they can travel long distances, and impact communities hundreds of miles away," Joyce explained.

Researchers found pollution from America's coal-fired power plants is responsible for 3,800 premature deaths a year.

The report listed PacifiCorp's Jim Bridger facility, operating since the 1970s in southwest Wyoming, as among the nation's most deadly. PacifiCorp has said it will continue operating two of the site's four units at lower capacities to reduce pollution levels, until they are converted to natural gas as early as this year. The other two units will go offline in 2037.

Joyce acknowledged while the transition away from coal-fired electricity will be good for public health, it added economic uncertainty to communities and state agencies deeply tied to the old fossil fuel economy.

"We need to be creative in our approach to prepare for these changes so that families can sustain themselves," Joyce stated. "And also so that the land, water and wildlife that everyone in Wyoming really values can continue to be enjoyed by everyone."

Just 18% of premature deaths from coal occur in the state where the power plants are located, and Wyoming is among the nation's top five exporters of coal-fired air pollution. Joyce added the report exposes just how dangerous the continued use of coal is for communities, public health and the climate crisis.

"The bottom line is that a transition to clean, renewable energy is not only good for combating climate change, but it will also immediately improve public health and save lives," Joyce contended.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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