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Closing Coal Plants Cleans the Air in Texas

Data analysis shows significant impact on air quality

Public Citizen's Texas Emissions Analysis

The Big Brown coal plant operated by Luminant in Freestone County, Texas closed in 2018

The closure of just three coal plants in Texas led to significant improvement in the state’s air quality, according to an analysis of state data by Public Citizen’s Texas office.

Adrian Shelley, Public Citizen’s Texas office director, examined the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Point Source Emissions Inventory released in January. He found that industry emissions dropped by 152,000 tons from 2017 to 2018.

“As we combed through this data, we noticed a trend,” Shelley wrote in a new report. “Most of the pollution reductions were coming from one industry: coal. Specifically, from three coal plants that closed early in 2018: Big Brown, Monticello, and Sandow. These three plants, all of them owned by Luminant, are responsible for most of Texas’ reduction in legal carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide pollution.”

Pollution from coal and other sources contributes to asthma attacks, premature deaths and millions of dollars in lost economic productivity.

In an interview with the Texas Observer, Shelley pointed out that Public Citizen and its allies in the Texas environmental community have pushed for coal plant closures across Texas for years. He said it is gratifying to see that work result in safer air quality in the state

“We have campaigned to close these coal plants for a really long time,” Shelley told the Observer. “Closing coal plants is an excellent way to reduce pollution.”