Quantcast

50 Dirtiest U.S. Power Plants Huge Contributor to Carbon Emissions

U.S. power plants are an outsized contributor to the world's carbon pollution, a new report released by Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group says. It found that in 2012, they added more climate change-causing carbon to the environment than the entire economies of any nation other than China. The report, "America's Dirtiest Power Plants: Polluter on a Global Scale," demonstrated that U.S. power plants produced more than six percent of worldwide global warming emissions.

The report found that a relatively small number of primarily older, coal-fired plants were the main culprits. The 50 dirtiest power plants, less than one percent of all U.S. power plants, produced a whopping 30 percent of power-sector emissions in 2012, 12 percent of all U.S. carbon emissions, and nearly two percent of all the world's carbon emissions. The U.S. has about 6,400 electricity-generating facilities. Yet a single one—the Scherer Power Plant in Georgia—produced .4 percent of U.S. carbon emissions, equivalent to the entire economy of Sri Lanka, which ranks 86th in the world.

"U.S. power plants are polluters on a global scale,” said Elizabeth Ouzts of Environment America Research & Policy Center. “That’s why clean power now must be part of the solution to the climate crisis.”

The report emphasized how much pollution the dirty plants produce relative to their energy production. Coal-fired plants produced 74 percent of U.S. power-plant pollution in 2012 but only 37 percent of its electricity. The 50 dirtiest plants contributed only 15 percent of the nation's electricity.

"U.S. power plants make such an outsized contribution to global warming emissions because so many of them are old and inefficient, and because so many of them run on coal, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet," said the report, which said that 98 of the country's 100 most carbon-polluting plants ran on coal.

The report recommended that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "strengthen, finalize and implement the Clean Power Plan," and that states begin to implement the plan to meet the standards as quickly as possible, working to quickly phase out the older, polluting plants and move to renewable energy sources. Its series of recommendations also includes urging Congress to pass a national renewable energy standard.

The Environment America Research & Policy Center is among many groups pushing for the Clean Power Plan. Six million comments have been submitted to the EPA and more than a thousand people have testified in hearing held across the country this summer in favor of the plan.

“For too long, power plants and other major polluters have enjoyed a holiday from responsibility,” said Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Rhode Island and some parts of the country have taken steps to cut carbon pollution and invest in clean energy, but this report shows why federal carbon pollution standards are necessary to protect public health, our communities and future generations from the dangerous threat of climate change.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

New Website Encourages Americans to Say No to Dirty Energy and Yes to Renewables

7 in 10 Voters Support Strong Carbon Pollution Limits on Power Plants

How Energy Policies Dramatically Cut Carbon Pollution State by Stat

Sponsored
Prince William and British naturalist David Attenborough attend converse during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, on January 22 in Davos, Switzerland. Fabrice Cofferini /AFP / Getty Images

Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.

During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.

Read More Show Less
EV charging lot in Anaheim, California. dj venus / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Electric vehicle sales took off in 2018, with a record two million units sold around the world, according to a new Deloitte analysis.

What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses. Alex Weber / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Savoca

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.

As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.

Read More Show Less
Southwest Greenland had the most consistent ice loss from 2003 to 2012. Eqalugaarsuit, Ostgronland, Greenland on Aug. 1, 2018. Rob Oo / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.

"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"

Read More Show Less
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Read More Show Less