The National Resources Defense Council has released its second annual list of the "Toxic 20," aka the worst states for toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants. According to the list, Tennessee is the nation's 11th worst offender.
In a press release sent out this afternoon, the NRDC ranked the Volunteer State "11th in industrial toxic air pollution in 2010, emitting more than 9.6 million pounds of harmful chemicals, which accounted for 37 percent of state pollution and about 3 percent of toxic pollution from all U.S. power plants."
The report (found here) used data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory, a compilation of toxic emissions data as reported to the federal agency by offending industries. It also found that Tennessee ranks 21st among states with the worst levels of mercury air pollution from industrial sources, citing 1,250 pounds of the toxic substance released into the air in 2010.
Kentucky ranked number one as the worst polluter. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas round out the top 10.
The release made special note of Sen. Lamar Alexander's opposition to efforts to repeal national air and mercury standards set in place by the Obama Administration — standards that would reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants from 34 tons annually to 7 tons by 2015, and all but wipe out emissions of hydrochloric acid. Alexander's counterpart, Sen. Bob Corker, supported efforts to repeal the standards.