I think it’s fair to say that most of the Washington, D.C., politicians attacking clean-air safeguards don’t have the same view out their front windows as the families in my small community of 300 people.
We look out on four polluting smokestacks, a small mountain of coal ash and seeping wastewater ponds. All are part of the Reid Gardner coal-burning power plant that was built in 1965, just a few hundred yards from our homes on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in southeastern Nevada.
Because coal-burning power plants operate largely out of the sight of most Americans, worries about coal pollution might seem remote. But the soot, nitrogen, sulfur and carbon pollution coming from these plants lands not just on our heads (and inside our lungs); it gets carried across the West by the wind. The Reid Gardner plant’s emissions, for instance, cloud the Grand Canyon in Arizona and worsen particulate and ozone pollution across southern Nevada and Utah.
My neighbors and I feel coal pollution up close. Our children and elders suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments, and that makes the issue immediate and personal. Emissions from coal plants have been linked to lung disease, premature death, heart disease and asthma, according to the Harvard Medical School.