US Emissions from Power Plants Increased 2.9% in 2007

A poor progress report on efforts to rein in greenhouse gases:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from U.S. power plants climbed 2.9 
percent in 2007, the biggest singleyear increase since 1998,
according to new analysis by the nonprofit and nonpartisan
Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) of data from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Now the single largest factor
in U.S. climate change pollution, the electric power industry’s
carbon dioxide emissions have risen 5.9 percent since 2002 and 11.7 
percent since 1997.

The new EIP report shows that the 10 states with the biggest one-
year increases in CO2 pollution are: Texas, Georgia, Arizona,
California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia and
North Carolina.

According to the EIP analysis, Texas, Georgia and Arizona had the
biggest CO2 pollution increases ona one-, five- and 10-year basis.

Data from 2006 show that the 10 states that emitted the most CO2 per
megawatt-hour of electricity produced (meaning the least efficient
power production relative to resulting climate-related pollution)
are: North Dakota, Wyoming, Kentucky, Indiana, Utah, West Virginia,
New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, and Iowa.

The EIP report provides context for the ongoing battles over
proposed new coal plants. The report notes: “The data make clear why
national environmental groups have expended so much effort trying to
stop the construction of a new batch of conventional coal-fired
power plants, which would make a bad situation worse. For example,
the eight planned coal-fired plants that TXU withdrew in the face of
determined opposition in Texas would have added an estimated 64 
million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, increasing emissions from
power plants in that state by 24 percent. But some of the rise in
CO2 emissions comes from existing coal fired power plants, either
because these plants are operating at increasingly higher
capacities, or because these aging plants require more heat to
generate electricity… [M]any coal-fired power plants are churning
out more CO2 than they did in years past. For example, all of the
top 10 highest emitting plants in the nation, either held steady or
increased CO2 output from 2006 to 2007. Georgia Power’s Scherer
plant – the highest emitting plant in the nation, emitted 27.2
million tons of CO2 in 2007, up roughly 2 million tons since 2006.
Some coal-fired plants date back fifty years or more, and carbon
reduction strategies will need to include ways to permanently retire
these plants.”

Commenting on the report, Eric Schaeffer, director, Environmental
Integrity Project, Washington, D.C. said: “The current debate over
global warming policy tends to focus on long-term goals, like how to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent over the next fifty
years. But while we debate, CO2 emissions from power plants keep
rising, making an already dire situation worse. Because CO2 has an
atmospheric lifetime of between 50 and 200 years, today’s emissions
could cause global warming for up to two centuries to come.”

Ken Kramer, director, Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, Austin,
Texas, said: “The bad news is that Texas is #1 in carbon emissions
among the 50 states, and our emissions have grown in recent years.
The good news is that Texas has the potential to play a major role
in addressing global warming if we embrace smart energy solutions
such as energy efficiency and renewable energy, solutions which pose
tremendous economic as well as environmental benefits. The dramatic
expansion of the wind power industry in Texas is a case in point. To
become a true leader in clean energy, however, Texas needs to
reject the new proposed coal plants that would spew even greater
carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and the state must take steps
to reduce emissions from existing coal plants.”

Mark Kresowik, Iowa organizer, Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign,
Des Moines, Iowa, said: “It is time for our states to reject coal
plants proposed by companies like Dynegy, which plans to add
pollution to four of the states on this list and become the worst
new global warming polluter in the country. Energy efficiency and
renewable energy are powering a renaissance in rural Iowa and
creating thousands of new manufacturing jobs for our state. By
rejecting coal plants and reducing pollution through energy
efficiency and renewable energy our states will prosper and attract
new businesses and young workers for the future.”

According to the EIP report, the consumption of electricity
accounted for more than 2.3 billion tons of CO2 in 2006, or more
than 39.5 percent of total emissions from manmade sources, according
to the U.S. Department of Energy. Coal-fired power plants alone
released more than 1.9 billion tons, or nearly one third of the U.S.

The Department of Energy projects that carbon dioxide emissions from
power generation will increase 19 percent between 2007 and 2030, due
to new or expanded coal plants. An additional 4,115 megawatts of new
coal-fired generating capacity was added between 2000 and 2007, with
another up to 15,000 megawatts expected to come online in the 2008 
through 2012 timeframe.


  • The top 10 states that emitted the most CO2 in 2007 (measured in
    total tons) are: Texas, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania,
    Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and West Virginia.

  • The top 10 states with the largest increases in CO2 emissions
    over the last five years (between 2002 and 2007) are: Texas,
    Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Alabama,
    Mississippi, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

  • The top 10 states with the largest increases over the past ten
    years (between 1997 and 2007) are Texas, Arizona, Georgia,
    California, Illinois, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and

For the full text of the EIP report, go to href=””
on the Web.

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