The Sierra Club is the latest environmental group attacking PNM for having the temerity to produce reliable, inexpensive, electricity. Their ad which appeared on my sports page in the ABQ Journal yesterday (August 12) claims “PNM’s Coal-Burning Power Plant Gives us More than Just Energy” and shows a kid with an inhaler. It also claims: “more than 1 in 5 New Mexico middle school students has suffered from asthma.”
Unfortunately, their claims just don’t hold up under scrutiny. They are more of a feeble attempt to spread fear. As this report and map from the Centers for Disease Control shows, the real percentage of children with asthma is less than 10 percent in New Mexico.
Now, compare that map with this one which shows the states that produce most of America’s coal-fired electricity.
Not exactly a “cause and effect” if I may say so. Texas, for example, is a serious coal state, but it has lower childhood asthma rates than we do. And, not surprisingly, New Mexico is not that big of a coal burning state. Oklahoma, like us, is not a big coal-burner, but has high asthma rates. Correlation between coal and asthma on a statewide basis is tough to come by, much less causation. Scientists don’t even know what causes asthma and what, if any role is played by air pollution (some in the linked article say more air pollution may REDUCE asthma rates).
Is coal without its problems? No, no energy including wind and solar comes without a price. But, environmentalist scare-tactics are not contributing to the debate over energy usage and sources.