The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report this week addressing toxic air pollution in the U.S. With the report, they created a "Toxic 20" list of states "where residents are at a higher risk of numerous health problems just by breathing," the NRDC explains.
According to a press release, the report "found that coal- and oil-fired power plants still contribute nearly half (44 percent) of all the toxic air pollution reported to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)."
NRDC's Pete Altman blogs, "Both senators from eight states of the 'Toxic 20' states -- Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi -- supported a resolution by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to repeal the health-protective mercury and air toxics standard."
Maryland ranked 19th, an improvement from fifth place the year before. Delaware rose one spot from 21st the year before.
The new rankings are based on 2010 figures. The environmental group said pollution was down overall and that new standards imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency mean power plant pollution should continue to drop.
The NRDC said toxic emissions overall decreased 19 percent primarily due to installation of controls and increased use of natural gas.
John Walke, the NRDC's clean air director, said falling natural gas prices have been the "single most influential factor" in the decision to convert to natural gas or retire coal-burning units.
Below, find the states with the worst pollution from power plants, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's "Toxic 20" list.
13. South Carolina
8. North Carolina
5. West Virginia