A report finds Iowa is tops in the nation when it comes to toxins emitted by power plants. The report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group shows Iowa power plants are releasing arsenic, lead, and other pollutants into the air. Laura Zahn, an Iowa field organizer from the Public Interest Research Group, says Iowa ranks 3rd in the nation for the amount of dioxin in the air and 7th in the nation for the amount of arsenic. Zahn says part of the problem is the Bush Administration has failed for force power plants to use new technology to reduce emissions. She says Iowa power plants in eastern and southern Iowa are “really contributing to this pollution problem” — because the plants are old. Iowa’s Democrat Governor has been boasting about new state laws which have encouraged companies to build more power plants in Iowa. Zahn says that may make things worse. Zahn says some of the newer plants are being built with more and better air-scrubbing technology, but she says since government Clean Air requirements aren’t more stringent, the new plants may be “just as egregious polluters as the old one’s are.” Zahn says the pollutants emitted by power plants cause health problems.Zahn says some of them cause cancer, birth defects and central nervous system problems. Zahn says Iowa power plants emit over eight-thousand pounds of lead each year and almost 65-hundred pound of arsenic.MidAmerican Energy is Iowa’s largest energy company, with seven coal-fired power plants in Iowa — three in Council Bluffs, two in Sioux City, one in Bettendorf and one in Muscatine. MidAmerican spokesman Alan Urlis says those plants all meet state and federal emissions standards. Urlis says MidAmerican Energy supports the E-P-A’s efforts to develop higher standard for “multiple-emissions” that are mentioned in the report. Urlis says the new coal-fueled power plant MidAmerican’s building in Council Bluffs will be unique in the country. Urlis says they’ll install “advanced super-critical technology” that will burn the coal at higher temperatures and at greater pressure. That reduces harmful emissions into the air, and Urlis says the Council Bluffs plant will be the first in the country to use the technology. Urlis says “the company takes its environmental compliance seriously and shares any concerns about the quality of the air that we breathe.”
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