Almost 6000 premature deaths each year can be blamed on pollution from 81 power plants operated by eight US utility companies, says a new report prepared for the Rockefeller Family Fund. The analysis, by the consultancy firm Abt Associates, also estimates that pollutants from these plants lead to 140,000 asthma attacks and 14,000 cases of acute bronchitis every year. The study looked at the emissions from plants run by eight companies cited by the Justice Department in 1999 and 2000 for violating the Clean Air Act. It is based on likely emissions in 2007, taking into account emissions reductions expected under the federal government's acid rain program. "This report shows how the Bush Administration's failure to enforce the Clean Air Act is a serious threat to public health," says Eric Schaeffer, the former chief of civil enforcement at the US's Environmental Protection Agency. Schaeffer will head up the Rockefeller Fund's Environmental Integrity Project, which will advocate for stricter enforcement. "Many children and families suffer the misery of asthma, bronchitis and even premature death because of the pollution coming from these eight utilities. From my experience inside the EPA I know that these companies would be a lot closer to cleaning up their acts if the White House could find the courage to say no to the energy lobbyists and enforce the law." Spokesmen for the utility industry criticised the report, saying it provides an incomplete picture of the issue by using selective data.
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