It Doesn't Soot You

The Florida Public Interest Research Group says many of Florida’s power plants are getting dirtier instead of cleaner. F-PIRG’s Holly Binns says while some plants are using new technology to reduce pollution, too many others are pumping even more poisons into the air.

"Although overall, Florida had big reductions in smog and soot-forming pollution, over two-thirds of the power plants in Florida had pollution increases.”

Crystal River is one of the worst offenders, pumping nearly two million more tons of carbon dioxide into the air than it did in 1995, and 15,000 more tons of soot.

"Environmentalists blame power plant pollution for a dramatic increase in health problems, including asthma. Childhood asthma rates have doubled in Florida since the early 1980s."

Dr. Ronald Saff is an allergy and asthma specialist who’s seen the effects of pollution first-hand.

"We know that when the air pollution levels are high more kid and adults go into the emergency room for breathing problems. We know there’s a direct correlation between high levels of pollution and cancer.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection disputes the report. A spokesman says it ignores the fact that pollution levels statewide have dropped in every category over the past 10 years.

"Since 1999, we’ve had an increase of 30 percent of demand for electricity and we’ve still seen these continual decreases. In 2004, which is not included in the report, we had further decreases in these emissions across the state."

Environmentalists say their real fear is federal roll-backs of clean air act requirements that could be a serious setback to the progress Florida has made.