Maryland power plants major global warming polluters

Media Releases

Environment Maryland

Baltimore, MD –As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows Maryland’s coal-fired power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as the entire country of Bolivia. Bolivia’s population outnumbers Maryland’s population by approximately 4.5 million people. Climate scientists, clean energy businesses, and local elected officials point to this newly released data to support proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

“When power plants here in Maryland create as much pollution as an entire country, we know the climate is in trouble,” said Bailey Rehnberg, the Global Warming Solutions Organizer for Environment Maryland. “It’s time to stop ignoring the nation’s largest global-warming polluter, and start investing in clean energy.”

The Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center report, America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, comes as more than a hundred thousand activists and world leaders converge in New York City, seeking solutions to climate change that scientists have clearly linked to extreme weather events.

“Eighteen thousand years ago, when ice sheets a mile thick advanced as far as New York, the whole planet was only about 5 degrees Celsius cooler than it was before we started adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by the gigaton around 1900. Since then, because of this carbon pollution, the world’s temperature has warmed by about 1 degree Celsius,” said Dr. Dan Kirk-Davidoff, Adjunct Associate Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and the University of Maryland, College Park. “As a consequence, we’ve seen the arctic sea ice shrink dramatically, we’ve experienced about 8 inches of sea level rise, we’ve seen a shift of precipitation to fewer storms with heavier rains, and in California we’re seeing how vulnerable even our rich country can be to shifts in precipitation patterns.”

The report also comes as the Environmental Protection Agency takes public comments on proposed, first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. If enacted, the limits would be the largest single step the United States or any country has ever taken to cut global warming emissions.

By comparing 2012 carbon emissions from U.S. power plants to total carbon emissions of entire countries, the Environment Maryland analysis shows why limiting pollution from coal plants would make such a big impact. Key findings include:

  • If the United States’ fleet of coal- and gas-burning power plants were a country, it would be the 3rd-largest carbon polluter, behind the entire US and China.
  • Raven Power’s Brandon Shores power plant in Pasadena is Maryland’s largest global warming polluter. The rest of the top five dirtiest power plants in Maryland are: GlenOn Mid Atlantic’s Morgantown Generating plant in Newburg, NRG Chalk Point’s power plant in Eagle Harbor, AES Warrior Run Cogeneration Facility in Cumberland, and Raven Power’s Herbert A. Wagner plant on Fort Smallwood Road.
  • Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan would reduce as much carbon pollution in 2030 as the entire country of Canada, the world’s 8th-largest polluter, emits today.

The Clean Power Plan would also spur investments in clean energy like wind and solar power, for which there is vast potential across the country. Maryland is already one of the leaders, ranking #12 in solar production in 2012, ranking ahead of Texas and Colorado, and right behind sunny Hawaii.

“The solar industry continues to drive down the costs of both distributed and utility scale solar, improving affordability, market acceptance, and interoperability with the power grid,” said Rick Peters, Co-owner of Solar Energy Services and President of Maryland DC Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association. “While many have claimed that intermittency of supply will always preclude solar and wind from impacting energy mix, the results continue to counter these claims.”

Americans have submitted more than 6 million comments to EPA supporting limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and more than a thousand people testified in support of the Clean Power Plan at hearings held across the country this summer. Local elected officials, small businesses owners and dozens of members of Congress have all voiced support for limits on carbon pollution.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our economy and to public health, and it’s important to realize that our actions are having very real consequences,” said Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen. “Environment Maryland does great work raising awareness about this critical issue, and this report is no different. We’ve made important progress to increase clean and renewable energies, but we must do more. That is why I’ve introduced the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act, which would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while stimulating the economy by putting more money into the pockets of every American.”

At a July EPA hearing in Washington, DC, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin gave public testimony in support of the Clean Power Plan.

“Maryland is lucky to have climate champions like Congressman Van Hollen and Senator Cardin who are leading the way in cutting pollution and shifting to clean energy,” said Bailey Rehnberg. “The Environmental Protection Agency should encouragemore states to follow Maryland’s lead.”