November 28, 2014

Physician group says Iowa uses too much coal

The group Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility (IPSR) launched an anti-coal campaign today. I.P.S.R. Coordinator Maureen McCue spoke at a statehouse press conference and released a report showing 92% of Iowans live within 30 miles of a coal plant.

“It was actually quite surprising to me that we, here in Iowa, rely to such a great degree on coal when most states are getting off of coal,” McCue said. The report claims Iowa relies on burning coal for nearly three-quarters of its electricity generation, while the national average is about 50%.

McCue says Iowa and other U.S. states should follow the lead of European countries that generate most of their electricity from wind, solar, biomass or geo-thermal sources. “There are cities in Sweden and Germany with up to 80,000 people that are off of fossil fuels almost entirely,” McCue said.

The report ranks Iowa 7th in the country, on a per capita basis, for coal consumption. McCue says that exposes Iowans to coal pollution and health risks. She says the initial costs of switching to more renewable forms of energy will pay for themselves over time.

“It’s a different way of thinking about energy,” McCue said. “We’re really stuck with an energy source from the 1800s. We could be moving a whole lot faster to a whole lot better source of energy.” Iowa is home to more than 40 coal burning plants. McCue says several of them are among the “oldest, less efficient and most polluting” coal burning power plants in the nation.