Here is a little bit of news that slipped under our radar as 2011 ran out. In October of last year, the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) published a report on the emissions on 3,000 power plants in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. These are the three countries that signed the NAFTA trade agreement back in the 1990’s which is the deal that led to the creation of the CEC, which published the report. The report lists the top ten dirtiest plants in each of the three countries, circa 2005 data (the most recent data they could get for all the plants across the three countries). In the U.S., the top polluting power plants – all coal-fired – are listed below, courtesy of thedailygreen.com.
Should you want to peruse the information yourself, there is an interactive database here, with data broken down by country.
Carbon dioxide – Top spot belongs to the mammoth Scherer facility near Macon, Ga., a 3,520-megawatt plant owned by a group of Southeastern utilities. Scherer emitted more than 23.4 million tons of CO2 in ’05. Going full blast, Scherer burns nearly 1,300 tons of coal per hour. But Scherer’s CO2 emissions rate—tons per megawatt-hour—was not the highest. Within the top 10 for CO2, that honor goes to Westar Energy’s 1,857-megawatt Jeffrey Energy Center, a plant burning Powder River Basin coal north of Topeka, Kansas, that powered out 1,086 kilograms of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
Mercury – The top emitter was Luminant’s 1,880-megawatt Monticello plant in northeast Texas, which burns mostly lignite, a low-grade coal variety, but also throws some higher quality Powder River Basin coal into the mix. A total of 977 kilograms of mercury went out Monticello’s stacks in ’05.
Sulfur dioxide - Georgia Power’s 3,500-megawatt Bowen plant, north of Atlanta, released more than 169,000 tons of SO2, an acid precipitation and particulate precursor, back in 2005. Scrubbers went operational at Bowen three years later with the goal of knocking SO2 emissions down by 95 percent, so the commission’s numbers don’t reflect the better news coming out of Bowen.
Nitrogen oxides – The 2,040-megawatt Four Corners coal plant, located on Navajo land in northwestern New Mexico and owned by a consortium of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas utilities, released 37,870 tons of NOx, another acid precipitation and particulate precursor. Four Corners is the focus of a legal battle over its emissions; a coalition of tribal and environmental organizations filed suit two months ago under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review provision to force plant owners to install NOx controls.