Polluting power plants and municipal boundaries

Many people do not want to live near facilities like power plants, sewage treatment plants, and landfills. However, if the facility is outside municipal boundaries, there may be little citizens can do. The Chicago Tribune presents a classic example – a power plant emitting heavy pollution that draws less attention because it is just outside Chicago city limits:

From a plane, it would be easy to think one of the nation’s dirtiest power plants is within the Chicago city limits.

But the aging State Line Power Station, a major contributor to the city’s chronically dirty air, sits just a few hundred feet over the state border in Indiana, leaving it largely unnoticed and untouched during a decades-long effort to transform the Chicago area’s smog-choked history.

Protesters regularly march in front of two other coal-fired power plants in Pilsen and Little Village, demanding an end to noxious pollution that wafts into the Chicago neighborhoods. Federal and state prosecutors are suing the owner of the plants to force significant cuts in smog- and soot-forming emissions.

Yet a Tribune analysis reveals that the State Line plant, built along Lake Michigan by ComEd in 1929 and bought by Virginia-based Dominion Resources in 2002, is far dirtier than either of the Chicago plants. It emits more lung-damaging nitrogen oxide than the Pilsen and Little Village plants combined, and churns more sulfur dioxide and toxic mercury into the air than either plant.

The article goes on to say that there are efforts to force this plant to clean up. Considering the attention these kinds of plants tend to draw when located in more populated areas, its interesting that this one has received less notice than other facilities.

A note: this plant can be seen easily from the Chicago Skyway.