INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Parts of five Indiana counties that are home to aging
coal-fired power plants are facing limits on new industry now that the
federal government has determined those areas don’t meet its new, tougher
standard for an air pollutant that causes acid rain and aggravates
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified Indiana officials July 25
that parts of central Indiana’s Marion and Morgan counties, southwestern
Indiana’s Daviess and Pike counties and Vigo County in western Indiana
exceed the EPA’s new sulfur dioxide standard. Sulfur dioxide is a gas with
the smell of rotting eggs.
EPA documents detailing the failure of the five areas to meet the agency’s
new, one-hour standard of 75 parts per billion of the gas show that power
plants situated in the nine affected townships account for nearly all of
each area’s sulfur dioxide emissions.
The plant on the list with the highest emissions is Hoosier Energy’s Ratts
Station, a Pike County plant that emits more than 27,000 tons of sulfur
dioxide each year, according to the documents.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management now has 18 months to
draft a plan detailing how those areas intend to come into compliance with
the standard during a five-year timeframe, IDEM spokesman Dan Goldblatt said
Until those areas are in compliance, no new industries that would emit
sulfur dioxide can locate in any of the noncompliant areas unless another
plant cuts its sulfur dioxide emissions, he said.
“So essentially the level of (sulfur dioxide) has to remain at that level or
lower - it can’t be more,” Goldblatt said.
Jodi Perras, who oversees the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana,
said the EPA notification shows the impact of the state’s overwhelming
reliance on coal. Indiana gets more than 90 percent of its electricity from
coal-fueled power plants.
Some of the plants included as sources of the pollution on the EPA’s list
are scheduled for closure or replacement with cleaner-burning natural gas
Perras said utilities are making those moves because they can’t afford to
reduce emissions under the new sulfur dioxide standard and other tougher
Even with some plants being mothballed or shifted to natural gas, she said,
many of Indiana’s power plants will continue to burn high-sulfur content
coal mined in the state’s southwestern region, keeping parts of the state
under high levels of the pollutant.
“Sulfur dioxide is really bad for people with asthma. It contributes to
asthma attacks and it contributes to heart attacks,” she said.