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The Air We Breathe

By Jim Sack, 11/15/2018

But, the elephant in the room is in the air we breath and the water that flows under our bridges: Indiana is considered the most polluted state in the country and of Hoosierdom’s most polluted areas Fort Wayne and New Haven are in the top 10.

Hot young job prospects can find that tidbit easily enough on line.

How, you might ask, did that transpire. Jobs would be the answer. Think of that upbeat, sleeves rolled up slogan: Indiana’s open for business.

After the Harvester collapse the city scrambled for something big to replace the 10k lost manufacturing jobs and wooed GM to town with a successful package of incentives that included a waiver on air quality standards.

In nearly every county in the state our political leaders have given other waivers to big polluters from Gary to the state's most polluted country, Posey, where I&M belches forth tons of soot and carcinogens each day.

But don’t blame it exclusively on cigar chomping businessmen from whom profit is the only morality, nope add in labor.

In 1980, the Graham Richard campaign for lieutenant governor issued a critical statement on a power plant proposed for Lake County. The arguments were concerning pollution, succeptibility to a terrorist attack, and an underlying fault line that could take turn Chicago into Chernobyl and Lake Michigan into Fukiyama, if an earth quake occurred, and but even on a good day would daily spew pollutants into the air, waivers in hand. The labor unions voted overwhelmingly against former Mayor Richard and sealed his defeat. Their interest was in jobs, not the health of their families.

And, now we have Steel Dynamics exceeding air quality guidelines, as well as power plants and factories from one end of the state to the other. Open for businesses has come to mean freedom from regulations that include those that safe guard the health of those who can afford to spend the winter on the beach.

*Power plants in the Hoosier state were responsible for 68 percent of toxic air pollution in the state and 7 percent of toxic air pollution from all U.S. power plants.

All of Indiana's electric facilities are powered by coal. The burning of fossil fuels, especially coal by power plants, is the No. 1 cause of global climate change.

*Indiana is the fifth greatest mercury polluter.

Indiana ranked second among all states for industrial greenhouse gas emissions in 2014; Kentucky was ninth.
Industrial emissions of greenhouse gasses in Kentucky fell 3 percent over the four years. For Indiana, they remained level.
Indiana was fourth for toxic air emissions; Kentucky was sixth.
Indiana's toxic air emissions fell 1 percent over the four years; Kentucky's fell 33 percent.

Top ten states for industrial greenhouse gas pollution, 2014:
TX,  408 million metric tons.
IN, 160 metric tons.
OH, 138 metric tons.
LA, 138 metric tons.
PA, 137 metric tons.
FL, 135 metric tons.
IL,  131 metric tons.
CA, 116 metric tons.
KY, 110 metric tons.
AL, 104 metric tons
Source: EPA

I&M’s Rockford Plant is one of the dirties polluters in the country, bar none/ putting 2.5 million pounds of toxic compounds in the air annually. Rockport also spews 15.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the air each year. 2 million pounds of hydrochloric acid. 152k ton of sulfuric acid.


A report released Wednesday by Environment America ranked Indiana as the state with the most toxic releases to waterways.
The report compiled the data released by companies that release chemicals into waterways in every state. Indiana ranks the highest, with just under 18 million pounds of toxic releases into waterways.
Indiana also ranked fourth in cancer-causing releases, eighth in developmental toxins and 25th in reproductive toxins in waterways.

The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), an independent unit of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has released its list of the top corporate air polluters in the United States.
Guess which state is home to many of the country's worst-of-the-worst?
The group's "Toxic 100" includes too many companies with operations in Indiana to list here. But, of the top 20, no fewer than 12 make the cut here in the Hoosier state.
Listed in order, from worst to... if not "best," we'll say "not-as-worst:"
Exxon (Ranked no. 2, with operations in Hammond)
Sunoco (3, East Chicago)
ArcelorMittal (5, Gary, Burns Harbor, East Chicago, New Carlisle)
Steel Dynamics, Inc. (6, Butler, Columbia City, Pittsboro)
Archer Daniels Midland Co. (7, Frankfort, Mount Vernon)
ConocoPhillips (11, East Chicago)
Valero (12, Hammond)
General Electric (13, Terre Haute, Bloomington, Fort Wayne)
AK Steel Holding (14, Columbus, Rockport)
Alcoa (16, Newburgh, La Porte, Lafayette, Auburn)
Duke Energy (17, Owensville, New Albany, Cayuga, West Terre Haute, Edwardsport)
United States Steel Corp. (19, Gary, East Chicago, Portage)

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