Recent studies have shown a connection between COVID-19 infection rates and exposure to air pollution. We can all agree that air pollution is a problem that needs to be addressed; however, there seems to be confusion among some of your readers about what types of pollution cause smog, where soot comes from, and the best ways – according to actual science – to combat air pollution.
The American Lung Association says the main causes of smog are gasoline and diesel-powered cars and trucks, burning coal, oil, and wood. In fact, satellite images of the United States taken since social distancing efforts began to show a significant improvement in air quality. Why? Because there are significantly fewer vehicles on the road, much manufacturing has shut down, and many planes are grounded. Meanwhile, power plants are still running.
It’s puzzling that one of your readers would argue that Danskammer should not be allowed to repower its old, dirtier power plant because soot is bad for people’s health. Soot is a combination of sulfur and ash and a byproduct of particulate matter. Coal is a major producer of soot. Natural gas power facilities are not. Modern-day natural gas technology is one of the cleanest power options available. Furthermore, by updating the Danskammer facility, New York becomes less reliant on dirtier power. In other words, stopping this project causes more air pollution, not less.
It’s time we look at the true causes of air pollution and move to address them instead of pointing the finger at the cleanest power facilities in the state. Real change comes from removing coal-fired facilities, petroleum-burning vehicles, and oil only-based power plants as an important first step.
President and CEO
Danskammer Energy, LLC
Opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Mid-Hudson News.