Comments about ‘Study says coal burning in Utah kills 202 a year’

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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 19 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Sensible Scientist
Rexburg, ID

This kind of cause-and-effect study is notoriously hard to prove because so many factors affect mortality -- lifestyle choices, heredity, life history, employment, home environment, hobbies, soils, building materials, eating habits, food sources, drugs, allergies, medical history, house location, and on and on. To say that one thing was the primary cause for a specific number of people's deaths is highly questionable, especially if the study was statistics-based and not a case-by-case study. I urge the legislature to take this report with a big grain of salt.

Salt Lake City, UT

202 dead per year....

and Utah lawmakers do nothing.

Centerville, UT

Time to turn the lights out in california.

Layton, UT

No it really doesn't and Utah lawmakers decided not to drink the Kool Aid like you and your cronies Pagan.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Imagine the lives that would be saved if we all lived in caves and only ate fruits and berries that had fallen freely from the trees and bushes. All these modern conveniences such as electricity and running water have shortened our lives and are killing people. The environmentalists are right.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

I agree with "sensible scientist"!!

Its sad to see science become politicized, but that's exactly whats been happening the last few years.

Utah lawmakers: think this through, how can ANYONE possibly come up with numbers that show a SPECFIC AMOUNT of people died as the result of pollution?

Smoker?, jogger? both these groups use their lung capacity more.

Live in a rural area? Still have the same "pollution death rate"? How can that be?

Too many variables exist to draw any sort of conclusions - UNLESS you're trying to get/cut funding for a particular political agenda.

Sorry guys, this "theory/study" has holes big enough to drive a truck through!

Salt Lake City, UT


Oh! The Kool Aid gambit!

How clever.

Let's say x5 people live in a typical home in Utah. Because of the economy, let's say x7.

202 people die, per year in Utah due to coal burning. This report supports that.

That's 28 homes, empty, due to the 202 dead Utahns per year.

All this talk of morality, and 'clean living' from the right. And yet, when it comes to actually giving Utahns a clean, healthy way of life...

it seems our Utah leadership only cares about a tidy profit instead of the health and lives of people who live in Utah.

No One Of Consequence
West Jordan, UT

"The report says Utah should replace its most polluting coal plants with wind and solar power and find ways to conserve energy."

And we could prevent even more pollution if UTA replaced all the buses with rikushas.....

Ferron, UT

Does the report say that air pollution kills 202 Utahns each year, or that coal-fired power plants kill that many?
I find it hard to believe that pollution from our coal-fired plants kills 202 people in Utah (or anywhere else). Most are located in eastern Utah. Given our prevailing west-to-east airflow, I just don't see that many Utahns being exposed.
I can see how people could be affected by the muck they breathe during inversions along the Wasatch front, but coal fired plants aren't big contributors to that. You could do more good by encouraging mass transit and by discouraging smoking. Oh, wait---we're already doing that.
Pagan, most of the coal miners and union workers in the power plants are hard-core Democrats. Carbon County has not elected a Republican to any County office in at least 30 years.

Salt Lake City, UT

And how many lives have coal-fired power plants saved by keeping people cool or warm and providing them light and other necessities?

Did they factor that into the study?

Dayton, OH

The news article misstates what is in the report.

The 202 deaths are attributed to emissions from all Utah fossil-fuel sources of electricity, coal and natural gas. Coal is 82% of the total, natural gas is 18%.

The 202 deaths include both in-state and out-of-state deaths. The Utah deaths are 28, not 202.

The number of deaths are estimates. They were not determined from death certificates or estimated from epidemiological studies. Instead they were derived (by computer modeling)from estimates of emissions, estimates of exposure levels, and estimated sizes of the populations exposed. Needless to say there is considerable uncertainty in the estimated number of deaths, which the authors of the report acknowledge in the report.

Ferron, UT

Just read the research paper. It "estimates" 202 deaths each year (not necessarily in Utah) due to generation of power using fossil fuel (coal and natural gas). This isn't a scientific study of what has actually occurred. It is an estimate generated by a think tank that makes its living promoting green energy.
To arrive at the figure of 202 "premature deaths", they estimate how many toxic elements go up the smoke stacks, how widely the toxins are disbursed, what percentage of the toxins are actually inhaled, and how many people would be affected. Here are a few gems from the report:
“...ozone exposure modeling is based on a single paper in which relationships were derived for a single summertime month more than 10 years ago, so the uncertainties for ozone impacts are likely large and potentially highly biased...”
“...even the well-characterized estimates have appreciable uncertainties...”
“...there are significant uncertainties associated with the concentration-response functions for mortality and morbidity outcomes...”
I think we need more green power. But to say that coal power kills 202 Utahns each year is simply sensationalism at its worst.

Orem, UT


I don't blame you for being dismayed with the despicable attitude some people have about the environment.

Rest assured though, if any of them are LDS, then they are far out of step with their Church's teachings.

"We're working very hard to try and find ways to conserve the precious resources, help with clean air and use those kind of practices that are environmentally responsible," -- Bishop H. David Burton, the Church's presiding bishop.

In April 2010, the LDS Church announced that newly constructed buildings will be more environmentally friendly.

The new Farmington stake center, for example, has 158 solar panels, water conservation technology, etc.

The scriptures teach that man was given stewardship over the earth, and that every person will give an accounting to God of their stewardship.

There are no exemptions mentioned for politicians or those who vote them in. :-)

“For decades we have looked for innovative ways to ... reflect our commitment AS WISE STEWARDS OF GOD'S CREATIONS.” -- H. David Burton (EMPHASIS added).

I moved to Utah from Alaska and have had respiratory problems ever since.

It's silly to nitpick the study when everyone knows the air here is substandard.

Grantsville, UT

I would like to read the report..anyone know where it is on the web. The consulting firms mission statement is a little troubling "Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future without Coal and Nuclear Power in the U.S."

Appears to be an eastern think tank group.

Dayton, OH

@oldasdirt 4:41 p.m.

Deseret News doesn't allow links to be posted. However, you can find the report online by googling either the report's name:

"Co-Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Energy in Utah" (no quotes)

or the report's file name:

"synapse_co-benefits.pdf" (no quotes)

LDS Tree-Hugger
Farmington, UT

I don't want to be an "I-told-you-so"

but, I TOLD YOU SO!!!!


CPA Howard
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

If we want to save 202 lives let's get rid of alcohol and tobacco products. Oh while we're at it get rid of fast food. I bet we'd save more than 202 lives.

Logan, UT

This news article is beyond ridiculous. It goes something like this: "Some state agencies (it doesn't say which ones or who is heading up these agencies) commissioned, but don't endorse, a study that says Coal Fire Power Plants are killing over 200 people in Utah each year. (Again, the story doesn't mention which Utahns died.) Some doctors who agree with the study have told the governor to do something so that Utah will replace all it's Coal Fire Power plants with wind and solar. (The article also doesn't mention one state where that has, or ever is going to happen.) Lousy journalism, bogus science, and tree-hugging fear mongering at its finest.

Cedar City, UT

This study seems ridiculous to me. Though I do not see coal fired power plants being the the power of the future, for now they are the best we have. Don't be putting people out of jobs and raising energy costs based on some bogus study done with a political motive in mind.

Layton, UT

the chemical impact of burning fuel for energy is pretty scientifically accessible. I don't think that the science is at fault here--just because people are noticing that there may be cleaner ways to obtain our needs in energy.

We shouldn't want to continue to burn coal just because we've always done it that way--or even that it's the most immediate and financially beneficial solution. Back when pioneers founded the cities they didn't have solar cells--though they did occasionally employ hydraulic/mechanical power to power mills. Now we have such technologies, and should look into how best to deploy them.

A long-term sensible policy towards energy migration will help us all out in the long-run. Who doesn't want cleaner air?

This doesn't mean we abandon conservative principles or economic sensiblity--but instead we should embrace ecologically conservative principles as well. In other words, it should be on our to-do list, and we should investigate how to make cleaner energy more accessible.

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