Letter writer pleased with Ameren’s decision to close Oakville plant

To the editor:

In her Aug. 14 letter, Kathleen D. Suda seems to think that as long as energy is cheap, it does not matter what the energy producers do to the environment.

She asked for proof, so let me attempt to provide her and others of her ilk as to why concerned citizens of Oakville are pleased with the decision to close the Ameren Missouri plant by 2022.

Construction was completed on Rogers Elementary School in 1991. Twenty-three years ago, I am not sure we realized the effects that the burning of coal was having on our air and water.

The analogy can be compared to cigarettes. Fifty years ago, smoking was considered chic and cool. But once scientists proved that cigarettes were harmful to us, warning labels were deemed mandatory and most rational people quit.

Here are a few harsh realities of the U.S. coal industry. Each year, a typical-sized 500-megawatt coal-fired electricity plant produces:

• 3.7 tons of carbon dioxide, leading cause of global warming.

• 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, main cause of acid rain.

• 10,200 tons of nitrous oxide, major cause of smog and also acid rain.

• 500 tons of small particles that cause lung cancer.

• 220 tons of hydrocarbons that cause smog.

• 720 tons of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that contributes to global warming.

• 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge that enter our landfills.

• 225 pounds of arsenic, 114 pounds of lead, four pounds of cadmium which enter our waterways and affect the fish we eat.

• Trace elements of uranium, which are greater than those produced by nuclear power production.

• The typical power plant burns 1,430,000 tons of coal, uses 2.2 billion gallons of water and 146,000 tons of limestone a year.

• The Mississippi River carries an estimated 1.5 million tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year, creating a “dead zone” in the gulf each summer that is the size of New Jersey.

The Sierra Club has sued Ameren over alleged violations at the Oakville plant.

Studies from across the United States are realizing that a combination of natural gas and solar energy can provide clean energy at an affordable price.

Why isn’t Ameren pursuing this avenue rather than continuing to pollute the air and water that we all breathe and use?

It’s all about profit. Pollution is not a liberal or conservative issue.

It’s doing what’s right for future generations. I would hate to have our generation’s legacy be that we allowed our planet to be contaminated by the energy providers over a few extra bucks we were being charged and a few migratory birds.

We need to focus on the big picture, not petty politics and those politicians who sold out to these energy providers and coal producers.

Remember this in November.