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The Drake debate could have big impacts on the environment

A green future?

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More solar is likely on the way for Utilities. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • More solar is likely on the way for Utilities.

Renewables

Emissions

Speaking of those scrubbers, there are questions about how well they work. Utilities claims they work remarkably well, removing 95 percent of sulfur dioxide from the plant's emissions. And that's true according to a sampling of the plant's plume compared to pre-scrubber levels. But, there's only one monitor, located off Eighth Street, collecting data to model ambient air quality. The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission found that insufficient to make a determination about the plant's compliance with federal clean air standards.

Health

Underpinning the sideline discussions about renewables and emissions is a concern for public health. Nearly 80,000 people, according to U.S. Census data, live within three miles of Drake. The Clean Air Task Force, a research and advocacy organization focused on reducing emissions, used a peer-reviewed methodology to attribute four deaths, six heart attacks, 80 asthma attacks, three hospital admissions, three cases of chronic bronchitis and four asthma-related emergency room visits a year to living within that three-mile radius. That cost certainly doesn't figure into current calculations about closing Drake, though several on the Utilities Board expressed interest in gathering more information.


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