Guest Blog by Luke Wilson, Jasmine Woods, and Jaqueline Stogner
The recent drought and influx of people in SC has caused the state-owned utility company, Santee Cooper, to propose the construction of two 660-megawatt coal-fired power plants in Florence County in order to keep up with SC’s growing electricity demand. Coal burning plants emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and contributor to global warming, nitrogen oxide, a component in smog, sulfur dioxides, a contributor to acid rain, and mercury, a highly toxic metal when converted to methyl mercury. These proposed plants would annually produce over 8 million tons of CO2 and discharge 300 pounds of mercury into the Great Pee Dee River as a byproduct of burning coal. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has already issued a high mercury level advisory for the consumption of many fatty fish caught in the Great Pee Dee, and adding another coal plant would only exacerbate the problem.