Peachy Dirty: Georgia's Coal Conundrum

Yesterday I met with Dr. Heidi Cullen, the Weather Channel's full-time global warming expert (yes, they have one).
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I'm in Atlanta, where we had a sneak preview showing of "Too Hot Not to Handle" on the campus of Georgia Tech. The documentary, which I exec produced and which premieres on HBO this Saturday, lays out the impacts of global warming on the U.S. and highlights some of the great solutions individuals are initiating around the country.

Unfortunately, Georgia's coal-fired power plants aren't helping much.

Last year, Co2 emissions from Georgia's power stations increased by 8.4 million tons, the largest increase nationwide. All together, the Peach State's power industry spewed 94 million tons of Co2, 8.9 percent more than the year before. Half of this pollution came from just two facilities, both dirty old coal-fired plants with antiquated equipment - one with the dubious distinction of being named the dirtiest power plant in North America in 1998, and the other a repeat Clean Air Act violator itself.

Even though the technology exists to make these plants cleaner, Georgia isn't alone in its growing Co2 emissions. U.S. power plants emitted more than 2.5 billion tons of Co2 in 2005, 48 million tons more than in 2004. Most of these emissions come from aging coal-burning plants.

Yesterday I met with Dr. Heidi Cullen, the Weather Channel's full-time global warming expert (yes, they have one). When Dr. Cullen started this job a few years ago, the Weather Channel never imagined it'd be competing with the evening news. The networks' coverage seemed to cater mostly to geeks and insomniacs. But since severe weather events are happening with more frequency, and having a greater impact on our daily lives, there's a new segment on the evening news alongside the traffic report and the sports scores... the severe weather report.

With hurricane season fast approaching, and extreme weather breaking records around the country and the world, I expect Dr. Cullen will be very busy this year.

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