Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter

Air Quality Coal Campaign

Pennsylvania’s Dirty Coal-Fired Power Plants

In 2007 U.S. power plants released 2.56 billion tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the amount produced by 449 million of today’s cars – that’s more than three times the number of passenger cars registered in the United States in the same year.”

That is one of the remarkable findings of a new report from Environment America titled “America’s Biggest Polluters – Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007”. This report follows a recent account of the trend of power plant emissions from 1990 to 2007.

Among the findings of the report are the following:

  • Coal-fired power plants are responsible for a disproportionate amount of this pollution – though coal produced two-thirds of U.S. fossil fuel electricity, coal plants emitted over 80 percent of fossil fuel global warming pollution. Coal plants emitted about one-third of the nation’s total global warming pollution.
  • With a total CO2 emission of 123,583,904 tons in 2007, Pennsylvania was fifth in the nation, behind Texas, Ohio, Florida, and Indiana.
  • Many of the nation’s power plants are decades-old. Twelve of Pennsylvania’s twenty-two coal-fired plants are 50 years old or older.
  • Old and dirty tend 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.

A sigificant finding for Pennsylvania is that for the same amount of electricity produced, the amount of CO2 emitted from plants fueled by natural gas is about 65% that of coal-fired plants. This fact lends some support to the drilling of the Marcellus Shale deposits, if natural gas is seen serving as a transition towards a non-fossil energy economy.

Included among the nation’s 100 Dirtiest Power Plants are seven of Pennsylvania’s own ….

  • 16 Bruce Mansfield (Beaver County), commissioned in Dec, 1975, 17,387,361 tons of CO2 in 2007.
  • 34 Homer City (Indiana) Jun, 1969, 13,576,987 tons.
  • 44 Conemaugh (Indiana) May, 1970, 12,124,919 tons.
  • 45 Keystone (Indiana) Jun, 1967, 11,898,614 tons.
  • 63 Hatfields Ferry (Greene) Jan, 1969, 10,173,499 tons.
  • 72 Brunner Island (York) Jun, 1961, 9,380,958 tons.
  • 76 Montour (Montour) Nov, 1971, 9,252,615 tons.
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