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1% Of US Power Plants Emit 33% Of Energy Industry Carbon. Easy Fix?

Coal-fired power plant

A new report (PDF) has found that less than 1% of America’s power plants emit almost a third of US electricity industry carbon emissions, Mother Jones has reported. Unsurprisingly, the majority (98) of the top 100 emitters happen to be coal plants. This begs the question: if it’s only 1% of power plants, how easy would this be to clean up a huge percentage of emissions?

The report from the independent, not-for-profit Environment America Research & Policy Center indicates that addressing these biggest polluters would have a huge impact in terms of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Together the emissions from these top polluting power plants, if they were a country in themselves, would represent the seventh largest source of carbon emissions in the world!

This report comes ahead of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal for emissions standards for new power plants. It has been suggested that any new coal-fired plants are unlikely to be able to meet the strict new standards the EPA will no doubt propose, so should stop new coal-fired plants from being built. This will not address existing coal plant pollution, but there are new standards for existing power plants in the planning as well. These are not expected to be finalized until 2015.

As there are around 6,000 power plants in the U.S., surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to retire the 100 top polluting power plants in coming years. Renewable energy is gaining ground year by year, and in the case of solar power, the growth is exponential. Natural gas plants have also been taking over from older coal plants. In fact, over 100 coal plants have already been shut down in recent years, so it’s not difficult to summize that it could well be possible to shut down the top polluting power plants in a relatively short space of time, with the right regulatory framework in place.

Image CC licensed by Doc Searls: Coal-fired power plant.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Arthur Yagudayev

    Easy fix, of course! Replace the coal with LFTR, (Liquid Fluoride
    Thorium Reactor) Thorium is a new type of nuclear reactor that is 100%
    meltdown proof, has almost no nuclear proliferation risks and can burn
    nuclear waste generated by the current reactors we use. LFTR can produce
    energy cheaper than coal for several reasons. 1. is that they do not
    need to be pressurized and they do not need cooling towers like coal
    plants and nuclear plants need. If there is a power failure to the
    reactor, the thorium will simply melt to it’s natural state and will
    drain into a drain tank, averting a meltdown. Also, if the reaction gets
    too hot, the neutrons will absorb less protons, slowing down the
    reaction until it cools down. There needs to be no human intervention as
    the reaction is self-regulating unlike today’s reactors where anything
    can go wrong like in Ukraine Chernobyl in 1986, and Three Mile Island
    and the recent Fukashima dai-ichi plant. Coal plants also spew radiation
    like radon and uranium found in coal deposits form the natural decay of
    uranium in the Earth’s interior. Coal plants have leaked more radiation
    into the environment than all the nuclear plants do, including the

    Here is a petition to get the USA off of coal and fossil fuels altogether and make the USA a carbon-neutral nation by 2050! Please sign this petition!


  • Jimbobray

    Total misuse of ‘beg the question’. Look it up.