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Coal-burning power plants

Peabody Coal Company

Proposed Power Plant Will Add 25 Thousand Tons of Air Pollution and Harm Rivers and Wildlife

The Dirty Facts

  • The Peabody Coal Company seeks a permit to build the biggest coal-burning power plant Illinois has seen in decades adding 25 thousand tons of toxic air pollution.
  • Peabody proposes to build this “Prairie State Generating Station” on the banks of the Kaskaskia River in Washington County, 20 miles southeast of the Metro East area and 20 miles southwest of Carlyle Lake.
  • At greatest risk from more soot and smog pollution are the children and elderly residents, especially the more than 50,000 asthmatic adults and children who live in Washington and surrounding counties.
  • According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), high levels of soot and smog levels in the Metro East area of Greater St. Louis are already
    unsafe to breathe — even without Peabody’s additional pollution.
  • Peabody’s outdated coal-burning technology would use 18 million gallons of water daily from the Kaskaskia River and threaten wildlife and fish populations.
The proposed Indeck and Peabody power plants would emit more dangerous mercury pollution than existing power plants in other states. Mercury is a neurotoxin that causes brain damage, particularly in young children. Mercury pollution has poisoned every lake, river, and stream in Illinois. Peabody would add 270 pounds of additional mercury to Illinois' lakes, rivers and streams annually. Indeck would add more than 100 pounds of mercury every year.


Other dirty coal plants and weak clean-air laws jeopardize Illinois’ health and environment

  • Existing dirty coal-burning plants are the State’s largest sources of air pollution, causing asthma attacks, emphysema, and even premature deaths.
  • According to the US EPA, air pollution from the Baldwin power plant in Randolph County is responsible for 5,000 premature deaths in the last 20 years.
  • Illinois’ dirty coal-burning power plants produce 80 percent of the toxic mercury emissions added to Illinois skies each year. Mercury is a neurotoxin that causes brain damage, particularly in young children.
  • Mercury pollution has poisoned every lake, river, and stream in Illinois. Peabody would add 270 pounds of additional mercury to Illinois’ rivers, lakes and treams.
  • Mercury is believed to cause mental retardation in children whose mothers are exposed to the toxin, primarily through consumption of fish. Mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants deposit in lakes and rivers, where they enter the food chain.
The chart above shows how the proposed Peabody power plant will emit far more nitrogen oxide (a component of smog) compared to other exisiting power plants. Peabody's unnecessary pollution threatens our families. Peabody's pollution will also hurt existing St. Louis area business that are already on the hook to reduce pollution and will have to do more if Peabody's highly-polluting proposal moves forward.


Peabody’s dirty coal plant: bad for Illinois’ economy and businesses

  • Increased healthcare costs: More air pollution means more hospitalizations, which results in higher insurance premiums for people with health insurance and higher taxes for everyone to cover the health costs of the uninsured. Each year thousands of Illinois residents are rushed to the ER with asthma-related or other pollution-induced breathing emergencies. The neighboring Baldwin power plant has, over the past twenty years, cost residents more than $47 million in healthcare costs including 2,500 hospitalizations for emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, or cardiovascular disease hospitalizations, annually.
  • Loss of tourism dollars: Mercury pollution has contaminated Illinois lakes and rivers, and threatens the State’s fishing industry — a favorite pastime for Illinois residents and tourists alike.
  • Increased business costs: Peabody’s dirty-coal plant will increase business costs by adding pollution that would cause existing and new businesses to do even more to reduce pollution levels. Currently, the Metro East area fails to meet stringent federal air quality standards.
  • Increased taxes: Peabody seeks millions in state subsidies to build this dirty-coal power plant. If the permit is granted, Illinois residents will pay to have their air polluted.
  • More global warming: According to a January 2004 study in Nature magazine, unless significant steps are taken to reduce global warming, higher temperatures could result in the extinction of up to 37 percent of our native plants and animals by 2050. Peabody has offered no measures to reduce its global warming pollution.

Peabody Coal Company can do better – Illinois Residents Deserve Better

Illinois has far more power plants than it needs. Illinois needs to clean up its old dirty power plants and only build new power plants that are clean, safe and provide affordable power. The following chart shows that we can do much better than Peabody’s dirty coal plant proposal (note the differing sizes of the power plants).

  Peabody 1500MW
Dirty Coal
Gasified Coal
WI 523MW
Natural Gas
Bloomington, IL
400MW Wind
Pollution / Year        
Sulfur Dioxide 11,866 691 11 0
Nitrogen Oxides 5,216 1,611 169 0
Mercury (tons/yr) 0.14 0.03 0 0
Particles (Soot) 980 253 276 0
Carbon Monoxide 7,824 691 123 0

Take Action Today! Say NO to Peabody’s dirty coal plant and YES to clean air and clean energy.

  1. Write to Governor Rod Blagojevich at Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706 and tell him to reject Peabody’s dirty coal plant proposal until it agrees to install state-of-the art pollution controls
  2. Attend the public hearing on March 22, 2004 and speak up for clean air and clean energy, Marissa High School, 300 School View Drive, Marissa, IL.
  3. Written comment deadline is April 2, 2004 and should be sent to: Hearing Officer, Re: Prairie State Generating, Illinois EPA, PO Box 19276, Springfield, IL 62794-9276.
  4. Find out more about clean air and clean energy at
  5. Sign up for regular updates by sending an email with your name, address and phone number to



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