If the 50 dirtiest power plants in the United States were their own sovereign country, they would qualify as the seventh-biggest polluter in the world, according to a new report released on Tuesday. Those power plants alone emit more than all of South Korea or Canada.
The new report, from the group Environment America, ranks the 100 dirtiest power plants in the U.S. Overall, nearly 6,000 different power generation facilities are located in the U.S., which in total account for 41 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions produced here. But the 100 dirtiest alone -- all but two of which are coal-fired power plants -- create nearly half of those planet-warming emissions.
The data in the report is drawn from the Department of Energy's Energy Information Center. The list is similar to one created last year using the Environmental Protection Agency's inventory of biggest polluters, though the rankings do vary slightly.
Texas, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania ranked highest for overall carbon pollution from power plants.
The top five individual plants were:
- Georgia Power Company's Plant Scherer
- Alabama Power Company's James H. Miller Jr. Plant
- Luminant Generation Company's Martin Lake Plant in Texas
- Union Electric Company's Labadie Plant in Missouri
- NRG Texas Power's W.A. Parish Plant
These power plants, said Julian Boggs, Environment America's global warming program director, "are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming."
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined the group at a press event rolling out the new report Tuesday morning. These plants, he said, "are a menace to our oceans and our atmosphere, and they are a menace to public health."
The listing comes as the EPA is finalizing a new draft of rules it released in March 2012 that would, for the first time, set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. In the rollout of his climate plan in June, President Barack Obama directed the EPA to issue a new draft of the rules by Sept. 20. Those rules, however, only address emissions from new plants; Obama also directed EPA to issue draft rules for existing power plants, such as those on this list, by June 2014.