The Council challenges the notion that expanding coal use is the answer to America's energy future. The continued reliance on this dirty fuel has major implications for America’s environment, public health and ability to address climate change. America is at an energy crossroads –it can continue to over rely on fossil fuels such as coal and oil and pay the resulting high health and security costs, or it can embrace the emerging green economy, which will create domestic jobs, increase energy security and decrease health care costs associated with air pollution by investing in and encouraging the use of energy efficiency and alternative energy such as wind and solar.

Coal has negative impacts on public health. Burning coal is a major source of ozone (smog), fine particulate, acid rain, air toxics and greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. Links have been made between exposure to pollution from coal-burning power plants and serious health impacts such as heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer. Burning coal also contaminates drinking water with mercury and other metals. Hazardous coal combustion waste (CCW) remains largely under regulated, often disposed of in unlined pits or old mines where dangerous chemicals like arsenic can leach into drinking water supplies.
Coal has negative impacts on the environment. Pennsylvania is a coal state. Pennsylvania is responsible for 1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from coal-fired power plants account for 40% of America's carbon dioxide pollution. Furthermore, the impacts of current and historic mining continue to impact Pennsylvania's landscape today in the form of abandoned mine lands, acid mine drainage, and waste coal piles.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is currently working on a rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. As Pennsylvania designs its plan to comply with the new EPA rule, the Council will be advocating for the state to use this opportunity to ramp up renewable generation and energy efficiency and begin to phase out coal.

The Council will continue its work to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air by advocating for tougher regulations for CCW; opposing the use of coal-to-liquids; speaking out in favor of forthcoming EPA rules that would further reduce harmful emissions from burning coal; and opposing mountaintop removal mining and the construction of new coal plants in Pennsylvania in favor of increased energy efficiency measures.



Clean Air Council Outreach Director Matt Walker was interviewed by National Public Radio about the implications of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's newly proposed carbon rule. The rule is a necessary step in following through with the President's Climate Action Plan and will reduce carbon dioxide pollution from new power plants in Pennsylvania.

Read more from StateImpact Pennsylvania here

 July 12, 2013 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the Portland Rule in a decision released today. New Jersey petitioned EPA for relief from sulfur dioxide pollution that was crossing the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border from the Portland Generating Station. EPA issued a rule which would reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from the Station by 81%.

 January 18, 2013 - This week the Clean Air Council along with the Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project and Group Against Smog and Pollution submitted comments concerning the Title V renewal permit for GenOn Power Midwest's Elrama Power Plant located in Union Township, Washington County.

 October 17, 2012 - Last week the Clean Air Council joined several environmental health organizations in seeking to intervene on the side of the EPA in a case where industry is challenging new source performance standards (NSPS) for power plants.  The final Utility NSPS set standards that limit emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from fossil-fueled power plants.

 August 2, 2012 - Clean Air Council attorneys filed a brief Monday before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, on behalf of the Council, Sierra Club and Greenpeace (Citizen Groups), in support of EPA's Portland Rule.