Maryland and Virginia are among the nation's top 20 power plant polluters, according to new rankings from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Virginia ranks 12th on the environmental group's list of the "Toxic 20." That's two spots higher than last year. But that doesn't mean the state isn't making progress, says Bill Hadden, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
"Virginia's power plants have been putting in equipment for the past several years to reduce their pollution," he says. "The overall trend we're seeing is an improvement in the air quality."
Maryland ranked 19th, an improvement over its previous ranking as the fifth largest power plant polluter.
Maryland has made pollution cuts unmatched by any other state, says a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of the Environment, who cites federal statistics.
The new rankings are based on 2010 figures, and the Natural Resources Defense Council says new standards imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency mean power plant pollution should drop over the next few years.
A slate of new legislation has received an endorsement by the Virginia State Crime Commission that they say would give law enforcement more tools to investigate and prosecute child abuse.