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Letter: To improve air quality, Ameren should phase out coal

Letter: To improve air quality, Ameren should phase out coal

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Ameren, Labadie coal fired power plant

Ameren Missouri's coal fired Labadie power plant located along the southern bank of the Missouri River in Franklin County as seen on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The 2,372 megawatt power plant first opened in 1970 and is by far the largest producer of electricity for Ameren. (David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com)

Regarding "Ameren announces new plans to emphasize renewable energy" (Sept. 28): Recently, we awoke to an Air Quality Index of 148, which is “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” This is not a rare occurrence, as ratings over 100 have been recorded more frequently in the past several months. Meanwhile, coal-fired utility Ameren Missouri continues to run misleading ads touting projects to “boost reliability and help you save energy and money.”

Ameren’s “public service” ads are paid for with revenues from our monthly electric bills. What Ameren does not talk about is the impact on our cardiopulmonary health by continuing to run its coal plants. Coal is the source of 72% of Missouri’s electric power. That’s among the five worst states in the country. When coal is burned, particulate matter is emitted, including particles too small to be filtered out before they lodge in the lungs.

Ameren has continued to push back against demands that it clean up its exhaust by installing scrubbers. This is an expensive modification. However, the cost-benefit analysis ought to factor in the economic benefit of hundreds of fewer premature deaths and chronic incidents of asthma and heart disease. Better yet would be to shut down Ameren’s coal plants, which use the atmosphere as a cost-free sewer for its carbon dioxide emissions — far higher for coal than for any other energy source. Instead of gaslighting the public with its advertising, Ameren might put the money into a plan to phase out its coal plants.

John Saathoff • St. Peters 

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