Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: MidAmerican Energy Testifies Against EPA Proposed Limits on Toxic Air Pollution
Press Release

RELEASE: MidAmerican Energy Testifies Against EPA Proposed Limits on Toxic Air Pollution

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Washington, D.C. — Today as the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works convenes a hearing on “The Clean Air Act and Public Health” to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce toxic air pollution from power plants, ThinkProgress released “Warren Buffett’s Utility, MidAmerican, Wants to Keep Polluting,” on toxic emissions by coal-fired power plants owned by MidAmerican Energy—a company set to testify in opposition to the EPA’s proposed toxic rule. At the hearing, Cathy S. Woollums, senior vice president of MidAmerican Energy, will reiterate recent statements by other big polluting utilities—including American Electric Power—and threaten rate hikes and job losses if the proposed power plant health safeguards become final.

MidAmerican is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. In 2005, the utility was the sixth-largest coal-fired electricity generator in the United States. MidAmerican’s power plants produce large amounts of toxic pollution. A CAP analysis of 2009 Toxics Release Inventory data (the latest available) found that MidAmerican’s power plants in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Utah, and Wyoming spewed a total of nearly 7,000 pounds of lead and mercury into the air we breathe and put our children’s lives and health at risk. These and other toxics are known to cause neurological, developmental, and respiratory harm.

Some of MidAmerican Energy’s 2009 toxics by the pound:

  • 1.8 million pounds of acid gases emitted, which the American Lung Association reports trigger “irritation to skin, eye, nose throat, [and] breathing passages.”
  • 4,063 pounds of lead emitted, which affects kidney function, the nervous system, immune system, reproductive and development systems, as well as the cardiovascular system and oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, according to the EPA.

Despite MidAmerican’s testimony, this hearing is on the Clean Air Act and public health, not Clean Air delays and private profit. Companies like MidAmerican that argue for delaying these rules ignore the urgent need to protect families from real health hazards. In these tough economic times, companies shouldn’t force Americans to choose between their kids and their jobs by threatening unemployment if forced to clean up.

To read the full post, click here.

To speak with Daniel J. Weiss on the EPA’s proposed toxic rule, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or [email protected].

To RSVP external link icon for the Center for American Progress’ June 21 event on the proposed rule, featuring EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and CAP Distinguished Senior Fellow Carol Browner, please call 202.682.1611.