About 60 neighbors who live around the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant attended a meeting as Bill Pringle, a former Caledonia resident, vowed to put legislative pressure on the energy company, area Legislators and the DNR to get an air monitoring station.

The meeting, sponsored by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, was held Thursday night at the Crawford Park pavilion. A number of area residents who live near the fifth largest coal plant in the United States have experienced health issues, including cancer, COPD, asthma, acid reflux, pneumonia, bronchitis, and stomach issues.

About 40 neighbors signed a petition calling on state Legislators to have the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources install an air monitoring station to the south and north of the plant to measure particulate matter.

“My family, and countless others in my neighborhood, have had serious health concerns recently. It simply cannot be a coincidence that we are all having respiratory issues. The only logical cause of this has to be that we are breathing extremely polluted air.”

Coal, coal dust and fly ash have been known to give to a number of diseases including: Heart disease, certain types of cancers, respiratory diseases, and strokes, according to Alan H. Lockwood, who wrote a report titled Coals Assault On Human Health.

To learn more about health issues associated with coal dust and coal ash.

We Energies spokesperson Brian Manthey told the Racine County Eye in September that the power company was made aware of some of the neighbors’ health concerns and they are looking into this matter. He also pointed out that there were no health claims about coal dust or fly ash from any of the homes they recently bought in the area around the coal plant other than claims made by Pringle. But a number of neighbors have told the Racine County Eye about their health issues.

Representatives from the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters told the group that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution in Wisconsin. However, the Supreme Court of the United States is expected to take up the legislation in 2017, according to Politico.

But many of the upgrades needed to reduce carbon emissions have already been made, Manthey said in a prepared statement.

“While this new rule does apply to the Oak Creek Power Plant, we do not see a significant impact on the operation of plant. The facility already has advanced wastewater treatment technologies installed that will meet many of the new discharge limits established by this rule. As we further analyze the new limits, we will determine what adjustments to those existing technologies may be needed in the future to meet all of the new standards.  The requirements of the EPA rule call for compliance to be phased in between 2018 and 2023 as permits are renewed.

Jonah Hermann, communications director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters called on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Governor Scott Walker to support the plan.

“Caledonia residents at tonight’s town hall have made it clear that the Clean Power Plan would serve as a tremendous first step to curbing their families’ health problems. In fact, the plan would result in 90,000 fewer asthma attacks, 3,600 fewer premature deaths, and prevent 300,000 missed school and work days for Americans across the country.”

But Walker has criticized the Clean Power Plan, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

“Unfortunately, Senator Ron Johnson and Governor Scott Walker have historically opposed any policy to curb climate change,” Hermann continued. “Tonight, these families made it clear that the effects of carbon pollution are a real problem, and it’s time that Senator Johnson and Governor Walker hear them out. While the health of Wisconsinites are at risk, Senator Johnson remains silent and Governor Walker actively opposes the Clean Power Plan. Johnson and Walker are out of step with their constituents, and yet again loyal to their corporate polluting friends.”

The group who attended the meeting plan to write letters to Johnson and Walker to encourage them to support the Clean Power Plan, circulate petitions and plan to continue meeting.

“We need to get to know one another, and get out and talk to your neighbors,” Pringle said. “We can beat the power company. As bad as they are, they can’t just do whatever they want.”

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.