Muscatine Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Muscatine Generating Station is a 293.5-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by the City of Muscatine, Iowa.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Muscatine Power & Water
  • Parent Company: City of Muscatine, Iowa
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 293.5 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 7: 25.0 MW (1958), Unit 8: 75.0 MW (1969), Unit 8A: 18.0 MW (2000), Unit 9: 175.5 MW (1983)
  • Location: 1700 Industrial Connector Rd., Muscatine, IA 52761
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.389210, -91.058635
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Sub Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Buckskin Mine (Kiewit Mining)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements:

Muscatine has worst air in Iowa

In February 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared Iowa's pollution-fighting plans "substantially inadequate" for maintaining fine particulate matter standards in Muscatine, which has the worst air in the state. The plant sits on the edge of the town's working-class South End neighborhood. EPA gave the state 18 months to develop new plans, after which industry will be required to reduce pollution within two more years. If pollution standards are not met, Iowas could lose federal funding and implementation of air standards would be done by the EPA rather than the state.[2]

In 2010, EPA voided nearly two years of Muscatine's sulfur dioxide data due to faulty equipment.[2]

Midwest Energy News quoted Iowa physician Dr. Maureen McCue, "Muscatine is a hot spot for air-pollution-related illness relative to the rest of Iowa." According to life-long Muscatine resident Linda Smith, her doctor diagnosed the upper-respiratory symptoms that she shares with others from the air as "Muscatine Crud."[2]

Attorney general files lawsuit for violations

In the Shadow of Pollution: Living and Working in Muscatine, Iowa

On December 1, 2011, Iowa’s attorney general sued the operators of Muscatine, GPC, alleging the plant has released more air pollution than allowed for at least the past 18 months. The filing of the lawsuit came a day after the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News "highlighted the state environmental agency’s passivity in curbing emissions."

State regulators at the Department of Natural Resources are being accused of allowing GPC to avoid New Source Review provisions, and not meeting the regulatory limits it had agreed to. The petition alleges that a piece of equipment called a dryer, which is used to cook corn, has been releasing more fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxide than allowed since at least June 2010. Both pollutants can cause respiratory problems, and an air monitor near the plant has picked up more than 30 instances in 2011 when sulfur dioxide reached potentially unsafe levels. Another count in the lawsuit states that GPC failed to self-identify as a plant subject to a specific rule requiring tighter control of toxic emissions. The company eventually asked regulators if the rule applied and, since being told it did, has taken steps toward following it. Nonetheless, the state says GPC missed deadlines because it started too late.

iWatch News said what is not in the lawsuit is the original permit allowing the dryer to be installed without requiring a more rigorous review in 1991, which “was an error and never should have been allowed,” according to an internal DNR engineering evaluation obtained by iWatch News. The same equipment also failed a test in 2005, emitting almost twice the allowed amount of pollution, yet regulators chose to increase GPC’s limit and again allow it to avoid a more stringent review.

After GPC began burning a different fuel in the dryer in 2010, tests indicated it was releasing more than three times the allowed amount of fine particles and more than twice the allowed amount of sulfur dioxide: "For more than a year, the company and regulators have been going back and forth – adjusting pollution control equipment, scheduling further tests, then canceling them – but GPC has yet to prove it can comply with its pollution limits," the lawsuit says. In 2010, the plant also released more lead – a toxic metal that can damage the nervous system – than any facility in Iowa and more acetaldehyde – a probable carcinogen – than almost any plant in the country, according to government data. In the petition, the attorney general asks the court to fine GPC up to $10,000 per violation per day and to prevent the company from violating air pollution rules in the future.

The company has begun a $100 million project to upgrade pollution control equipment at the plant and to reduce emissions. Some of the improvements are required by an agreement GPC signed in 2006 to resolve another case brought by the state for environmental violations. In that case, DNR officials determined that the company had been violating the terms of its permit for more than a decade. As part of the agreement, GPC agreed not to violate certain air pollution rules – the same rules the attorney general has accused the company of breaking.[3]

Coal lobbying

Muscatine Power & Water is a member of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy, Southern Company and American Electric Power as well as dozens of other companies. The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.[4]

ACAA set up a front group called Citizens for Recycling First, which argues that using toxic coal ash as fill in other products is safe, despite evidence to the contrary.[4]

Emissions Data

  • CO2 Emissions: 2,066,156 tons (2006), 2,194,716.55 tons (2008)[5]
  • SO2 Emissions: 3458.03 tons (2008)[6]
  • SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • NOx Emissions: 4010.51 tons (2008)[6]
  • Mercury Emissions:

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Muscatine

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[7] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[8]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Muscatine

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 6 $44,000,000
Heart attacks 10 $1,000,000
Asthma attacks 100 $5,000
Hospital admissions 4 $100,000
Chronic bronchitis 4 $1,700,000
Asthma ER visits 6 $2,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed April 2011

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 March 2020" EIA 923 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 B. Adam Burke, "Muscatine, Iowa: Pretty setting, but dirty air," Midwest Energy News, March 31, 2011
  3. Chris Hamby, "Day after story on weak enforcement, a state cracks down on polluter" iWatch News, December 3, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Coal-Fired Utilities to American Public: Kiss my Ash & PolluterWatch, October 27, 2010.
  5. Iowa Operating Permit Application, Title V Annual Emissions Summary
  6. 6.0 6.1 Iowa Operating Permit Application, Form 5.0, Title V Annual Emissions Summary
  7. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  8. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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