Super Polluters; A Super Problem

Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Super polluters are power plants that release more than the usual amount of pollutants into the surrounding environment– “millions of pounds of toxic air pollution.” The Center for Public Integrity underwent a nine-month investigation in Indiana to measure industrial air pollution in a state where there are seven super polluters within a 30-mile radius.  

The Weather Channel’s publication of this study created a 12-minute video and supporting case study. “A third of the toxic air releases in 2014 from power plant factors and other facilities came from just 100 complexes out of the more than 20,000 reporting to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency,” with 22 sites listed as super polluters and their owners’ profits at more than $58 billion.

As the italicized quote above outlines, this is a complex issue.

The video, however, makes it personal. A photographer-turned activist based in Evansville, Ohio, John Blair, made two remarks that stood out.

“I think the people should fight for their homeland.”


“People are just resigned to having ill-health.”

He has lived in this area of highly concentrated super-polluters for over 40 years and, after losing countless family members to cancer and other disease, he became an activist for the cause. Jessica Thomas is a local teacher in the same area and said, “I have 5-year-old twins and they love to play outside and the idea that we don’t know for sure what they’re breathing, that double-edged sword…”

Producers Greg Gilderman and Neil Katz and Director Jonathan Scienberg make the short film powerful by featuring the stories of real people affected by a real and huge industry. The accompanying case study written by Jamie Smith Hopkins seeks to bring the story further to life by providing graphs and statistics about super polluters and the damage they do.

Perhaps most simply put, Professor George Thurston from the NYU School of Medicine said: “I think clean coal is pretty much an oxymoron.”

The video seeks to inform the public and end these juxtapositions.


To read the article and watch the short film, click here:


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