A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants in the U.S. rose 5.56% in 2010 over the year before, the biggest annual increase since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began tracking emissions in 1995. The report is based on data from the EPA's Clean Air Markets website, which tallies emission reports from electric generators.
Texas power plants led the pack in 2010, with nearly 257 million tons of CO2 emissions – as much as the next two states, Florida and Ohio, combined – and more than seven times the total CO2 emissions from power plants in California.
Despite a favorable climate for wind energy and falling natural-gas prices, Texas opened three new coal plants toward the end of 2010, with a combined capacity of 2,156 MW. The 10 worst states for CO2 pollution identified in the report are Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.
Electricity generators released 2.423 billion tons of CO2 in 2010, compared to 2.295 billion tons in 2009, according to information available on EPA's Clean Air Markets database. Power plant emissions are still below the high watermark of 2.565 million tons set in 2007.
Last year's rise was driven in part by a 4% net increase in overall generation for the 12 months ending in November 2010, due to the economic recovery and unusually warm weather in some parts of the country.
Other report findings include the following:
– Fifty coal-fired power plants accounted for 750 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010, or about one-third of the total. The two largest carbon polluters, the Scherer and Bowen power plants in Georgia, together released more than 48 million tons of CO2 in 2010. By comparison, emissions from all power plants in California were 37.1 million tons; in New York, 40 million tons; and in the six states of New England, 40.5 million tons.
– Coal-fired generation rose 5.2% in the 12 months ending Nov. 30, 2010, growing at a faster pace than the overall 3% increase in net generation over the same period. But there was a 26% increase in the net generation of wind-powered electricity through the end of November last year.
– The phase-out of the worst polluters would make room for cleaner technologies, such as the 3.6 GW of wind power installed in 2010.
SOURCE: Environmental Integrity Project