Friday, August 10, 2012

Stunning Fact: Nation's Toxic Air Pollution Drops 19% In 2010 & Bigger Reductions Ahead

Using more natural gas to make electricity and installing modern pollution controls on more coal plants slashed by 19% the nation's toxic air pollution in 2010, according to a new report from NRDC. See  Kudos to NRDC for putting together the data.

To make the news better, the 2010 data are no fluke.  Even bigger reductions have happened in the last 19 months than took place in 2010. 

In 2011 and 2012, the combination of using still more gas to make electricity, that emits essentially zero toxic air pollutants, and installing pollution controls at still more coal plants will slash toxic air emissions by about another 30% or more.

The shale gas revolution has environmental challenges.  But it has enormous clean air and public health benefits too that this NRDC report documents.

The benefits of reducing substantially and quickly toxic air pollutants will be particularly big in Pennsylvania that has had through most of its history high amounts of toxic air pollution.  Gas and modern pollution controls are ending those days and turning the page to a better environment and economy.


  1. Absolutely amazing John! There is much more coal to gas switching going on now too. I wonder what those numbers look like currently. Also, I wonder how many more of these studies have to come out before those blindly opposed to drilling will concede the point that natural gas is an overwhelming, undisputable net positive for the environment.

    1. Agreed. I detect a bit of rethinking going on in a few green precincts. Perhaps wishful thinking on my part.

      Meanwhile gas, pollution controls at coal plants, renewables, energy efficiency are creating jobs, keeping energy affordable, and making air cleaner. Those are wonderful trends to keep moving forward.

  2. you are just substituting one polluter for another. both sides can be "blind". Mike can actually say that shale gas is " overwhelming, indisputable net positive for the environment" !?? The 3400 violations in Pa. are still out there and counting -- impacts to our environment-- we live in it and and smell it, hear it, see it and drink it. There is still a 9-mile, no-frack, no-drill zone around Dimock, Pa. by the DEP. And John, didn't the DEP find Cabot guilty of environmental impacts?

    1. Yes DEP found that Cabot caused gas to migrate to 18 water wells in the Dimock area. That is why DEP ordered gas wells plugged, gas wells repaired, fined Cabot over $1 million, $4.1 million in compensation to be paid to 18 families, withheld permits for a time, and created a no-drilling zone that continues to this day. Strong enforcement! It is also why as of December 2010, water test results showed the gas out of 14 of 18 of the water wells.

      All energy technologies cause environmental impacts. The issue is how much does each. Both a mouse and elephant create manure but not equal amounts. Gas emits much less pollution than coal or oil but more than most renewables.

    2. Ms. Scroggins,

      Every time you breathe out you're creating an environmental impact. Newton's law. Every action has a reaction. That's not a valid argument. Unless you're suggesting that we all go back to living in huts and roll back life expectancy by about 30-40 years. I don't think society is prepared to do that. As such, we have to get our energy somewhere. Wind and solar are an every growing and vital part of the equation, but they cannot exist on their own, and they are nowhere near being ready to handle the majority of our power needs, let alone all of it.

      Its been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that this can be done safely. Out of the 5,000+ wells drilled, only a handful have experienced substantive issues, and of those there have been NO instances that have not been able to be fixed.

    3. Concerned ScientistAugust 13, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      This was a good one John "Both a mouse and elephant create manure but not equal amounts"

      I am not sure why this fact is so hard for Vera, Josh Fox and others to understand. Switching from coal to gas is akin to the entire country switching from Hummers to Priuses. Fighting gas is like fighting Prius manufacturing.