Clean energy supporters urge action by Missouri governor

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SAINT LOUIS - Today, health experts, residents impacted by the St. Louis area’s coal-fired power plants, energy efficiency business leaders and advocates for low-income families urged more aggressive clean energy investment prior to the first meeting of the Missouri Comprehensive State Energy Plan steering committee at Washington University in St. Louis.

Governor Jay Nixon announced earlier this month that he would convene forums and take comments on the state’s first comprehensive energy planning process in decades.

“We have a huge opportunity here to improve peoples’ daily lives and create jobs by weatherizing homes and creating energy savings  in urban and low-income communities.” said Keith Jones, Director of Field Weatherization at Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Missouri is heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants, which are the largest polluters in the state. Pollution from these power plants makes air in communities from Kansas City through St. Louis dangerous to breathe, particularly for asthmatics, children and the elderly. Missouri also currently lags behind neighboring states like Illinois, Iowa and Kansas when it comes to clean energy investment, shutting the door on job creation in the state.

“As our state’s leaders build a comprehensive energy plan for Missouri, it is essential that they acknowledge how our state’s dependence on coal is degrading the health of our families,” said Dr. John Kissel, Retired Physician and Internal Medicine Specialist. “Pollution from aging coal plants puts a strain on families’ bottom lines when they see stacks of medical bills for respiratory illness and beyond.”

A local grassroots movement to move the region beyond coal to clean energy has already secured the phase out of three of Missouri’s oldest, dirtiest coal plants - Ameren’s Meramec coal plant in South St. Louis County and two of Independence Power & Light’s coal plants in Independence, Mo.

“I live a stone’s throw away from Ameren’s Labadie coal plant, which is often cited as one of the dirtiest coal plants in the country,” said Petra Haynes of Labadie Environmental Organization. “That’s not a reputation we want. Our state’s dirty energy mix is now isolating businesses that seek access to clean energy for their energy needs. Leaving coal in the past will be better for Missouri’s future.”

Clean energy advocates presented photo petitions from more than 200 Missourians for Governor Nixon asking him to ensure the state energy planning process addresses the state’s costly pollution from coal plants and the threat of climate disruption by building a clean energy economy. The petitions were collected at the People’s Climate March in St. Louis in mid-September, where nearly 400 residents marched in Kiener Plaza for climate justice.

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