Pollution not only harms our environment, it also costs Minnesotans a huge amount of money every year. Here in Minnesota, pollution from coal plants alone costs us at least 2 billion dollars a year in health and environmental impacts, and that number continues to grow.
This 2 billion dollars is more than just a number: behind it is the real suffering of thousands of Minnesotans. When you look at one coal plant managed by Xcel Energy, Sherco, which is also the biggest polluter in the state, these numbers start to sink in. From the Sherco coal plant alone, over 1,600 asthma attacks, 150 heart attacks and 92 premature deaths can be attributed. These are actual costs in terms of human lives and dollars in the form of massive medical bills.
There is some good news: a new study indicates that by shutting down the Sherco plant alone the state could avoid approximately $1.2 billion of the health and environmental costs from carbon pollution.
On Wednesday, August 26, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which regulates companies like Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power, will hold a public hearing to determine the true costs of pollution in Minnesota. During this hearing, the public will have the chance to share their stories and have their voices heard. Public health advocates, clean energy supporters and those who support clean air and clean water will be there to support the shut down of the dirty Sherco coal plant.
For those who were not able to attend the meeting, CURE and other statewide partners are gathering petitions for the PUC to hold polluters responsible for the true costs of their pollution.
We are also encouraging supportive community members to write letters to their local and state-wide newspapers encouraging the PUC to start accounting for the true costs of pollution.
Blog post by Kristian Nyberg, Energy Program Coordinator. Graphic by Sarina Otaibi, Director of Communications and Engagement.