The Scoop on Sustainability: The dirt on coal in New Hampshire
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 02:09
Out of view from Macro Polo, the Friendly Toast and the Starbucks bus stop is one of New Hampshire’s dirtiest secrets. Schiller Station, located in Portsmouth, is one of two coal-fired power plants located here in New Hampshire, and believe it or not Wildcats, it’s right in our backyard.
Owned by the Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH), Schiller Station has been operating since 1949 and is the third largest fossil fuel burning plant in New Hampshire. That’s right, Schiller has been up and running since your grandparents were in college.
Most people think of coal as Appalachia’s problem. While it is true that communities in the Appalachian region suffer heavily from the numerous economic and environmental impacts of large coal extraction operations, right here in New Hampshire we face an equally dirty issue - the burning of coal for energy.
Toxics Action Center, a New England environmental and health organization, ranked Schiller as one of the top 12 toxic polluters in New England. The burning of coal for energy is a major contributor to climate change. About 40 percent of the United States’ CO2 emissions are the result of coal-fired power plants. Looking beyond just CO2, coal-fired power plants release a whole host of other polluting toxins in the form of solid waste, cooling water discharge and waste heat. For all of you out there who equate emissions with just the atmosphere, think again. Pollutants from coal make it into our air, our water, our wildlife and even the food we eat.
Keeping Schiller open threatens our community with not only environmental issues, but health issues as well. According to a study carried out by the Clean Air Task Force, coal-fired power plants in the United States alone are annually responsible for over 10,000 cases of bronchitis, congestive heart failure, chronic lung disease and pneumonia, to name a few. These diseases result when humans inhale fine particle pollution exuded by coal-fired power plants in the form of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
As it turns out, pollution and health defects are not confined by state borders. Residents of Eliot, Maine, are fed up with increased asthma cases in their children and with cleaning soot out of their cars—the dirty effects of Schiller. Because of these hazardous effects, our friends across the Piscataqua River have formed a strong campaign with the message that “enough is enough.”
Through community support and outreach, residents were able to send a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking an investigation of sulfur dioxide levels from Schiller.
In the coming months, residents of Eliot hope to team up with the New Hampshire based environmental group Citizens for Clean & Fair Power and national advocacy organization Toxics Action Center to continue creating awareness around the negative effects that Schiller is having on our local communities.
Currently, Schiller powers 83,500 residential, commercial and industrial locations via three 50-megawatt boilers, one of which is wood-fired. With that being said, it is clear that closing Schiller can only become a reality once our local and state governments start taking alternative energy implementation seriously. Our community needs to take action to move away from this dirty energy that is negatively affecting the local environment which students, residents and tourists share.
If New Hampshire wants to take its citizens’ health and welfare seriously, as well as taking climate change seriously, closing Schiller Station is a huge step in the right direction.
To learn more about Toxics Action Network, please visit their website at toxicaction.org.
Interested in getting involved? Contact Charley Olena at email@example.com.