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WA Health Professionals Support Coal Free WA

Tags:   coal, public health,

Web Site:   www,wpsr.org, www.coalfreewashington.org

Dear Governor Chris Gregoire,

Cc: legislature

As members of Washington’s public health community, we are writing to show our support for transitioning Washington from coal power to healthier sources of energy. Here in Washington, we rely on coal for nearly 20% of our electrical power .

The sole remaining coal plant in Washington is the TransAlta coal plant, located in Centralia. Coal is a dirty and dangerous source of energy. TransAlta is the largest single point source of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury pollution in Washington.

Coal pollution is extremely hazardous to our health. It has been linked to four of the five major causes of death in our nation, including cancer, stroke, heart disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases .

As Washington’s largest source of mercury air pollution, TransAlta emits 354 pounds of mercury annually . Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that may result in irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, memory problems, depression, drowsiness, developmental delay, mental retardation, and permanent loss of intelligence . Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus .

TransAlta also releases arsenic and lead. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen . Exposure to lead can decrease IQ and can cause nervous system, behavioral and developmental problems.

The National Research Council’s report, Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use, estimates that the annual health care costs of TransAlta to be 11.2 million dollars .

We must end our reliance on coal and protect the health of Washingtonians. Please support a healthy energy future by transitioning the TransAlta Centralia plant off coal by 2015.

Because of the dangerous nature of coal pollutants, the Washington state public health community must be considered a stakeholder in the current negotiations determining the future of TransAlta.

Sincerely,

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