Public Awareness Ad Campaign Launched Today Presses PNM for Transition Off Coal
July 2, 2012
Billboards inform PNM bill-payers on health costs of coal-fired power and promote clean energy solution
New billboards on display starting today in Albuquerque show coal power plant smokestacks and a child asthma sufferer, with simple messages to Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM): “Coal Hurts — Switch to Clean Energy” and “Coal Hurts — Switch to Solar.”
The outdoor ad campaign is being sponsored by New Energy Economy in an effort to inform more New Mexicans about the full costs of generating electricity from coal-fired power plants — such as PNM’s nearly 40-year-old San Juan Generating Station near Farmington — and press PNM toward job-creating clean energy options like solar.
“A lot of people may not realize that the PNM electricity they’re paying for in Albuquerque comes from a coal plant in the Four Corners area that makes our whole region pay a big price with our health,” said New Energy Economy Executive Director Mariel Nanasi.
“It doesn’t need to be this way anymore, children today shouldn’t have to suffer worse asthma to power homes and businesses,” Nanasi added. “PNM needs to make a switch to clean energy that will not only be more humane, but will be more economical as well.”
Studies have shown that air pollutants from PNM’s San Juan coal-fired power plant have been very costly for human health. The plant’s 16,000 tons a year of nitrogen oxide emissions react with other compounds to form small particles that penetrate deeply into the lungs.
- A 2012 analysis by Dr. George D. Thurston, a Professor of Environmental Health at the New York University School of Medicine, finds that fine particulate matter formed from PNM’s San Juan coal smokestack emissions is associated with increased risk of heart attacks, asthma attacks, pneumonia, bronchitis, hospital admissions, and premature death. Those most at risk include infants, children, the elderly, and people with respiratory and cardiac disease.
- Dr. Thurston’s study finds that over the last five years these adverse health impacts have cost the public up to $240 million without the pollution controls necessary to significantly cut its nitrogen oxide emissions as required by EPA. Dr. Thurston notes that his analysis likely underestimates the health impacts and costs given that emissions from PNM’s San Juan coal-fired power plant likely affect communities beyond those in the 200 km x 200 km area around the plant which he studied.
- According to a New Mexico Department of Health survey, nearly 1 in 5 public middle school students and 1 in 4 public high school students in the state report that they’ve been told by a doctor at one point in their life that they have asthma.
The EPA has required PNM to install pollution controls at San Juan Generating Station to significantly cut its nitrogen oxide emissions. These same controls reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide by 90 percent, that are already in use at more than 208 coal plants nationwide. A coalition of environmental and community organizations, including New Energy Economy, has invited PNM and the state to meet to develop a solution to pollution at the plant that involves retirement of coal units in a transition to cleaner energy sources, an approach that could reduce more pollution at less cost than retrofitting the aging facility.
New Energy Economy’s billboards are located at the “Big I” and two other locations in town.