The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) operates 11 coal-fired power plants in the southeastern United States. These plants emit nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contribute to particulate matter (PM) and ozone in the eastern U.S., including North Carolina.
In an effort to force the TVA to reduce its contribution to air pollution in North Carolina, state Attorney General Roy Cooper filed suit against the TVA in January 2006, arguing that the TVA plants constitute a public nuisance. To bolster his case, Cooper commissioned reports from experts in air pollution modeling, control methods, health effects, and cost-benefit analysis.
These experts estimated that reducing NOx and SO2 emissions from TVA sources by about 370,000 tons per year (a 65 percent reduction) would have substantial health benefits, preventing more than 1,400 cases per year of premature mortality, more than 1,000 hospital visits, and hundreds of thousands of asthma exacerbations each year. By placing dollar values on these health benefits using standard cost-benefit analysis techniques, one expert report concluded that the health benefits would total $10.9 billion per year, or about 18 times greater than the annual cost of the emission reductions.
In reality, the actual benefits of the TVA power plant emission reductions will at best be only a tiny fraction of the amount claimed by the Attorney General’s experts.
Download PDF file of executive summary: Where the Bodies Are Buried: How experts for N.C.’s Attorney General mislead the public about TVA air pollution risks (196 kb)
Download PDF file of full report: Where the Bodies Are Buried: How experts for N.C.’s Attorney General mislead the public about TVA air pollution risks (632 kb)