State power plant pollution ranking cited

November 30, 2009
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Michigan’s power plants rank 13th nationwide for most carbon dioxide pollution, and the Monroe coal-fired power plant is the seventh dirtiest plant in the country for 2007, according to a new analysis of government by Environment Michigan. 

It's time for the oldest and dirtiest power plants to clean up their act. Coal-fired giants have dominated our electricity for decades and have been allowed to pollute without license. In order to stop global warming and reap all the benefits of clean energy, we must require old coal-fired clunkers to meet modern standards for global warming pollution.

Coal is the dirtiest of all fuels, but it supplies more of America's electricity than any other source. Coal plants currently do not have to meet any global warming pollution standard, meaning that they are an unchecked contributor to global warming. In fact, coal plants are the nation’s single largest source of global warming pollution.

The growing impacts of global warming will impose threats to our safety and immense financial cost on our society, and most notably for Michigan, will hurt our agricultural yield by millions of dollars. To avoid the worst effects of global warming, the science shows that the United States must cut its global warming pollution by 35 percent by 2020.

The new report from Environment Michigan, “America's Biggest Polluters: Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007,” looks at carbon dioxide emissions from power plants across the country using 2007 data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 2007 is the most recent year for which final data is available. The report examines both age of and pollution from power plants to document the fact that we are reliant on an energy infrastructure that is both old and polluting.

Nationally, the report shows that America's power is dominated by old and polluting plants, and that the oldest and dirtiest plants often go hand-in-hand. Power plants built three decades ago or more produced 73 percent of the total global warming pollution from power plants in 2007. Older power plants on average are dirtier per unit of energy than newer ones.

America's power is both decades-old and dangerously polluting. We’re reliant on technology that’s as old as the very first commercially available televisions. Televisions have gone from black-and-white clunkers to super high-definition flat screens, but they’re still powered by the same dirty electricity.

Clean energy holds the future of America — to make our nation energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and stop the worst effects of global warming. In order to realize this clean energy future, coal plants must stop polluting with impunity.

The U.S. Senate is slated to consider legislation in the next few months to establish the first-ever federal limits on global warming pollution and standards and incentives for clean energy. In addition, EPA has proposed a rule to require coal plants and other large smokestack industries to use available technology to cut their global warming pollution when new facilities are constructed or existing facilities are significantly modified. 

We urge Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin to vote for a strong clean energy bill that will cut global warming pollution and create clean energy jobs.

Shelley Vinyard is an associate with Environment Michigan, a state-based, citizen-funded environmental organization. To view the full version of the report, go to www.EnvironmentMichigan.org.

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