EGEB: Pollution kills more Americans than car crashes

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • More Americans die from pollution than car crashes, according to health insurance premium study.
  • EV bus workers join the steelworkers union — with management’s support.
  • 2019 will see the largest fall in electricity production from coal on record.
  • Virginia’s Dominion Energy will remove a coal plant from a green energy package following backlash.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Pollution kills more Americans than car crashes

Data, news, research, and analytics service Gavop has compared the average health insurance rates of the 10 most polluted states in the US. They discovered that living in certain states and cities with higher rates of pollution means that you have to pay a higher health insurance premium. Gavop reports:

The number of people in the US who have died due to pollution-related causes is much higher than automobile fatalities. According to data from [US EPA program] AirNow, 39% of the US population lives in areas with unhealthy air.

Louisiana was found to be the state in the US with the worst quality of air. Moreover, the average health insurance premium was found to be $5,926 in Louisiana, which was about $1,000 above the national average.

Citizens in Tennessee paid the highest average health insurance rate at $6,318, which was $1,378 higher than the national average.

The increasing pollution levels and the threat of climate change are having an impact on the insurance sector.

EV bus workers unionize — with steelworkers

Workers (there are 61) at Proterra’s City of Industry, California, plant have joined the United Steelworkers Local 675 union, with the blessing of Proterra’s management.

Proterra is a company that designs and manufactures electric transit buses and electric charging systems.

The majority of Local 675’s existing members work at oil refineries across Los Angeles, but union reps know the need to move to net zero and want to help their oil industry members survive the transition.

Even better, according to the Los Angeles Times:

Silicon Valley-based, venture capital-backed Proterra voluntarily recognized the union and pledged to sign a ‘community benefits agreement,’ which would commit the company to working with local nonprofits to hire and train workers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Proterra’s CEO, Ryan Popple, previously worked as an executive in the finance department at Tesla. Popple said:

If you can have environmental advocacy groups and labor advocacy groups aligned, I think you end up getting more done from a policy perspective.

Proterra’s union move clearly impressed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders:

Coal sets record fall in 2019

Electrek reported today that “there has been a 43% increase in the warming effect on the climate since 1990 as a result of long-lived greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide accounts for 80% of this.”

However, there is a bit of good news. Coal-fired electricity is expected to fall by 3% globally in 2019 — the biggest annual fall on record after more than 40 years of annual growth, according to a report released by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and the climate change think tank Sandbag.

India’s use of coal electricity is going to fall for the first time in around 30 years. There is a steep decline of coal use in both the EU and the US. China’s use of coal will plateau because, despite the country’s increase in building coal plants, they’re being run at low rates.

However, as we wrote earlier, this is still not an aggressive-enough reduction in fossil-fuel emissions to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals. We need to do better.

Hey, Dominion: Coal isn’t green energy

Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest energy provider, is removing a coal plant from a portfolio it is selling to consumers as “100% renewable energy” after backlash from environmental groups and businesses.

According to the Virginia Mercury:

Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, located in Wise County, produces energy using a mix of biomass and coal. Currently coal represents 93% of all fuel used by the facility and at a minimum will power 80% of its production.

An amendment to Virginia law passed in 2009 allows the “proportion of… energy from a facility that results from the co-firing of biomass” to be legally classified as renewable energy.

Businesses that objected to this portfolio — which is nowhere near 100% renewable energy, despite its legal classification — include Lockheed Martin, Walmart, and Microsoft.  The city of Alexandria and Arlington County also objected, as did the state Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.