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    Ian Johnston

    Big Coal makes essential reading for politicians
    Jennifer Doggett, Aug 08, 2013

    An excellent article. I have written in a number of fora along the lines of the following representation to my Federal Member, Ms Gai Brodtman. I was motivated to make this representation through and by Getup’s recent Campaign “Stand Firm on Climate”.

    The American Lung Association’s report “Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants”, mentioned below, is accessible on its website.

    The Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman article of 30 September 2011, “Markets Can Be Very, Very Wrong”, also mentioned below, is accessible on his New York Times blog.

    It’s time for Getup! to move on this health issue.

    Ian Johnston
    Canberra ACT
    (Now in France)


    Email to my Federal Member on 1 July 2013, submitted through Getup!:

    “Subject: Climate change policy and clean up of polluting coal-fired power stations

    Dear Ms Gai Brodtman

    The Prime Minister has indicated that the Government is reviewing its Climate Change Policy.

    If the Government were to move to an ETS sooner than currently planned, I seek assurances that:

    – firstly, there will be at least the same level of funding for renewable energy in the 2013/2014 Budget Year and the Forward Estimates; and

    – secondly, there will be a ‘floor’ set on the price of pollution, to provide certainty and a clear incentive for business to invest in clean, not polluting energy.

    Also, importantly, I ask you to make representations, on my behalf, to the Prime Minister, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment and the Minister for Health and Medical Research on the need to urgently put in place measures to ensure the clean up coal-fired power stations and, so, protect the public health of Australian people.

    As you will appreciate, burning coal creates harmful pollution and the process of burning coal releases chemicals into the atmosphere that threaten not only the air people breathe, but the water they drink, the soil they live on and the food they eat.

    Furthermore, coal-fired power stations emissions can make breathing difficult and can worsen asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis and other lung diseases. These pollutants can cause heart attacks and strokes, lung cancer and other cancers, birth defects and premature death.

    I draw to you attention The American Lung Association’s report “Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants”.

    This report details the dangerous mix of toxic air pollutants that flow from the stacks of uncontrolled coal burning power plants and the health harm associated with these pollutants (mentioned above). It also discusses the technologies that are available for dramatically cutting these emissions—technologies that are commercially available and proven to work. Hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants include:
    • Acid gases, such as hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride;
    • Benzene, toluene and other compounds;
    • Dioxins and furans;
    • Formaldehyde;
    • Lead, arsenic, and other metals;
    • Mercury;
    • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH); and
    • Radioactive materials, like radium and uranium.

    I also draw to you attention the following article by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman’s article on market failure, pollution and politics. He points to recent research findings by Muller, Mendelsohn, and Nordhaus: The costs of air pollution are big, and heavily concentrated in a few industries. Solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, stone quarrying, marinas, and oil and coal-fired power plants have air pollution damages larger than their value added. The largest industrial contributor to external costs is coal-fired electric generation, whose damages range from 0.8 to 5.6 times value added.

    Regards, Ian Johnston …”
    (personal contact details omitted from this posting)


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