Ohio and Two Neighboring States Make Toxic 20 List

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Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky have been designated in a listing of the top 20 states with the worst power plant pollution in the nation. 

The “Toxic 20” list is compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an international non-profit environmental organization.

The data show that 65 percent of the air pollution in Ohio is caused by coal and oil-fired power plants, according to the latest federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). 

In West Virginia, the percentage is higher at 84 percent and in Kentucky, it is 77 percent.

New Hampshire and Maryland lead the nation with 96 percent and 91 percent respectively.

The average percentage of electric sector contribution to air pollution for the “Toxic 20” is 57 percent. 

The average for the entire nation, according to NRDC figures is 49 percent. 

Ohio exceeds the national average by 16 percent.

The NRDC says the numbers could worsen if pollution safeguards are lifted by groups fighting the EPA.

“Toxic pollution is already being reduced as a result of EPA’s health-protecting standards,” said John Walke, NRDC’s clean air director.

“Thanks to the agency’s latest safeguards, millions of children and their families in the states hardest hit by toxic air pollution from power plants will be able to breathe easier.’’

“But these protections are threatened,” Walke said, “because polluters are intent on persuading future Congresses or presidential administrations to repeal them.”

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects data for the TRI, a national database of toxic emissions from industrial sources, annually.

The reported emissions include key power plant pollutants

such as mercury, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, ammonia and others,” according to NRDC.

The release of this information comes on the heels of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission approving Wednesday a 12 percent increase over three-years in American Electric Power rates to its 1.5 million Ohio


Customers may receive a 6 to 7 percent increase beginning in September, according to Associated Press.

PUCO’s award, however, was less than AEP requested. 

PUCO approved a pricing plan for AEP last December but then revoked it in February after major complaints from utility users, according to AP.

The states on the "Toxic 20" list (from worst to best) are:

1. Kentucky

2. Ohio

3. Pennsylvania

4. Indiana

5. West Virginia

6. Florida

7. Michigan

8. North Carolina

9. Georgia

10. Texas

11. Tennessee

12. Virginia

13. South Carolina

14. Alabama

15. Missouri

16. Illinois

17. Mississippi

18. Wisconsin

19. Maryland

20. Delaware

For the full methodology, see the analysis “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States,” which can be found here: