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State's big polluters spewed less last year

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State environmental regulators say toxic emissions by larger Indiana polluters fell 18 percent, or 20.6 million pounds, last year.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management disclosed the 2009 data this month, citing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s newly released Toxic Release Inventory, or TRI.

Electric-generating utilities accounted for 50 percent of the state’s pollution, with 49 percent from manufacturers.

The TRI data aren’t considered a comprehensive measure of pollution, however, in part because reporting is limited to firms that make or process more than 25,000 pounds of chemicals on the toxics list or use more than 10,000 pounds of the chemicals in a given year.

It’s also unknown to what extent the lower numbers stem from better practices among polluters—or to what degree emissions reflected reduced manufacturing output during the recession.

Many businesses have found ways to switch to safer chemicals or to eliminate them altogether, “and many have increased the efficiency of their processes to reduce or virtually eliminate chemical use,” IDEM Commissioner Tom Easterly said in a statement.

Overall, the Indiana manufacturing sector reduced toxic emissions 19 percent last year, while electric utilities curbed pollution 13 percent, according to TRI data.

The state’s coal-burning electric utilities have been upgrading their pollution-control devices in the last decade to comply with tougher federal and state limits on sulfur and nitrogen dioxide.

Last week, Indianapolis Power & Light asked state utility regulators to collect an additional $8 million from ratepayers to cover cost overruns on a flue gas desulfurization project at its Petersburg generating station, now estimated to cost $128 million.

The TRI data do not measure non-industrial activities that generate toxics, such as vehicle exhaust, which contains chemicals like toluene and xylene.  The data are more useful in identifying trends in chemical use and ways to modify industrial processes.

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  1. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  2. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

  3. Good try, Mr. Irwin, but I think we all know the primary motivation for pursuing legal action against the BMV is the HUGE FEES you and your firm expect to receive from the same people you claim to be helping ~ taxpayers! Almost all class action lawsuits end up with the victim receiving a pittance and the lawyers receiving a windfall.

  4. Fix the home life. We're not paying for your child to color, learn letters, numbers and possible self control. YOU raise your children...figure it out! We did. Then they'll do fine in elementary school. Weed out the idiots in public schools, send them well behaved kids (no one expects perfection) and watch what happens! Oh, and pray. A mom.

  5. To clarify, the system Cincinnati building is just a streetcar line which is the cheapest option for rail when you consider light rail (Denver, Portland, and Seattle.) The system (streetcar) that Cincy is building is for a downtown, not a city wide thing. With that said, I think the bus plan make sense and something I shouted to the rooftops about. Most cities with low density and low finances will opt for BRT as it makes more financial and logistical sense. If that route grows and finances are in place, then converting the line to a light rail system is easy as you already have the protected lanes in place. I do think however that Indy should build a streetcar system to connect different areas of downtown. This is the same thing that Tucson, Cincy, Kenosha WI, Portland, and Seattle have done. This allows for easy connections to downtown POI, and allows for more dense growth. Connecting the stadiums to the zoo, convention center, future transit center, and the mall would be one streetcar line that makes sense.

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