North Carolina is the eighth most polluted state in the country, as measured by toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The report says in 2010 North Carolina emitted more than 14.6 million pounds of chemicals into the air. The state was closer to the middle – 24th place – among all states in industrial mercury air pollution from power plants, according to the environmental advocacy organization.
Nationally, there was a 19 percent decrease in all forms of air toxics from power plants, the study found. The organization attributes the drop to increasing reliance on natural gas, and pollution control improvements installed in some power plants in anticipation of new Environmental Protection Agency requirements.
The EPA standards are estimated to cut mercury air pollution by 79 percent beginning in 2015, the group says.
An attempt in June by U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, to reverse the federal standards failed. Inhofe argued it would cost jobs and drive up energy prices. Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, opposed Inhofe’s resolution, while Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican from N.C., supported it.
Here’s the Top 20 list of pollution by state, from worst to best:
5. West Virginia
8. North Carolina
13. South Carolina
Here's the full report.