Alberta’s Power Plants Burn More Coal Than the Rest of Canada Combined
Not only are Alberta’s tar sands operations receiving negative attention world-wide, but now a coalition of health and environmental groups has just released a study that shows, “The province (Alberta) burns more coal than the rest of Canada combined, and greenhouse gas emissions from its six coal-fired plants are only slightly less than all of the emissions from oilsands operations combined.” (Edmonton Journal). The study notes that other provinces are quickly transitioning from coal-fired power generation to cleaner, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly generation, while at the same time Alberta continues to focus on burning coal and in fact on building new coal-fired generation.
Alberta has long been criticized for its callous attitude towards the environment and toward exacerbating climate change through massive emissions of greenhouse gases. This latest study looks not only at the negative environmental impacts of coal-fired power generation, but also at the negative health impacts on humans. Referring to the study, the Journal article continues, “Pollution from coal-fired power plants generates $300 million in medical costs and contributes to 100 premature deaths in Alberta each year…emissions from coal-fired electricity plants cause asthma sufferers to miss 4,800 days of work and school in Alberta and prompts 700 emergency-room visits from patients seeking treatment for respiratory and cardiovascular ailments each year.
The study indicates that in 2011, coal-fired power plants emitted 45% of Alberta’s entire output of mercury, 33% of its sulphur dioxide, 10% of its nitrogen oxides and 6% of its fine particulate matter. These pollutants exacerbate symptoms of asthma, negatively affect neurological and lung development, and also result in increased cardiac disease.
How much longer are the Alberta government and industry willing to ignore the very real negative impacts of increased greenhouse gas emissions and many other toxic pollutants when there are cleaner, safer, healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternatives? The creation of jobs and mega-profits for specific industries continues to take precedence over the health of our population and our environment in Alberta. When will Alberta join the rest of the country in recognizing that a healthy population and a healthy environment are necessary precursors of a healthy and sustainable economy?
See this link for more information on Alberta’s ill-conceived focus on coal-fired electricity generation.