Canadian cities petition US agency to limit coal power plants

Canadian cities petition US agency to limit coal power plants

Thirteen Canadian cities petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to curb air pollution wafting over the border from 150 coal-fired power plants in seven Midwestern states.

The plants are “among the oldest and dirtiest in the United States” and cause smog and climate change in Canada,” Albert Koehl, a lawyer for the Sierra Legal Defence Fund in Toronto, said in a statement.

The environmental group filed the petition on behalf of Toronto, Halifax, Windsor, Laval, Gatineau and other municipalities that represent more than five million people in central and eastern Canada.

Under the US Clean Air Act, the EPA must cut emissions when there is evidence of harm to Canadians from American sources, or the environmental agency could face possible lawsuits in US courts.

The petition states that the 150 plants emit 4.5 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide and 1.6 million tonnes of nitrogen oxides annually — more than double what is produced by all major Canadian industries combined.

These contaminants cause smog and acid rain.

The 150 plants in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky also emit as much greenhouse gas as all of Canada.

Toronto’s medical health officer, David McKeown, said that some 5,000 premature deaths are caused by smog in Ontario province each year.

“Citizens on both sides of the border are harmed by toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants,” he said.

“The City of Toronto has been fighting on many fronts to advocate on both sides of the border for cleaner air, and this is one more action. The voice of Canadians must be heard by American decision-makers.”

Available pollution-control equipment can reduce power plant emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 90 percent or more, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund noted in its release.

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