Thursday, March 20, 2008

U.S. Power Plant Emissions Way Up

by Environment News Service
March 18, 2008

The biggest single year increase in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants in nine years occurred in 2007, finds a new analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Integrity Project. The finding of a 2.9 percent rise in carbon dioxide emissions over 2006 is based on an analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Now the largest factor in the U.S. contribution to climate change, the electric power industry's emissions of carbon dioxide, CO2, have risen 5.9 percent since 2002 and 11.7 percent since 1997, the analysis shows.

Texas tops the list of the 10 states with the biggest one-year increases in CO2 emissions, with Georgia, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia and North Carolina close behind.

The top three states - Texas, Georgia and Arizona - had the greatest increases in CO2 emissions on a one, five and 10 year basis.

Director of the Environmental Integrity Project Eric Schaeffer 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 50 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," he warned.

Data from 2006 show that the 10 states with the least efficient power production relative to resulting greenhouse gas emissions were North Dakota, Wyoming, Kentucky, Indiana, Utah, West Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, and Iowa.

The report explains why national environmental groups are fighting to stop the construction of new conventional coal-fired power plants, which they say would make a bad situation worse.

"For example" the report points out, "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."

Some of the rise in CO2 emissions comes from existing coal fired power plants, the analysis found, either because these plants are operating at increasingly higher capacities, or because these aging plants require more heat to generate electricity. "For example, all of the top 10 highest emitting plants in the nation, either held steady or increased CO2 output from 2006 to 2007."

Read more here.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008

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