New York State and Connecticut have asked Canada to convert three coal-fired plants to cleaner-burning natural gas, saying pollution from the generators is increasing death rates and damaging the Adriondack''s forests and lakes.
The prevailing winds carry the emissions, including sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxides, from southern Ontario where the plants are located to western New York and throughout New England, according to a letter the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut sent Canada''s Environmental Minister.
One of the three plants, the Nanticoke facility, is the largest coal-fired plant in North America, and located just 40 miles upwind from Buffalo, N.Y.
Breathing problems, including asthma, have been linked to the pollutants coal-fired plants produce.
The New York asthma rate is two to three times the national average, the letter said.
The attorneys general of New York and Connecticut asked Canada to create a review board to study whether converting the plants would clean up the offending emissions.
Ontario''s Environment Minister Dan Newman shot back at New York State and Connecticut, saying that more than half of Ontario''s air pollution comes from sources in the United States.
"If Ontario were to shut down every domestic source of air pollution, we would still have smog because of the overwhelming amount of pollutants that are blown over the border from the United States," said Newman.
Newman contends that Ontario''s sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions pale in comparison to emissions from the U.S. states.
With respect to fossil fuel generating stations, Newman said Ontario is well ahead of EPA in reducing sulphur dioxide emissions that cause acid rain.
"About seventy-five percent of Ontario''s electricity comes from hydroelectric and nuclear power that produce no air pollution," noted Newman. "Therefore, our emissions per unit of electricity generated are lower than many comparable U.S. states."
by Virginia Sutcliffe