New York Power Plants Major Global Warming Polluters

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Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York Research and Policy Center

NEW YORK, NY–As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows New York’s coal-fired power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as the entire country of Tunisia.

 “When power plants here in New York create as much pollution as an entire country, we know the climate’s in trouble,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “It’s time to stop ignoring the nation’s largest global-warming polluters, and start investing in clean energy.”

The Environment New York 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, which scientists have clearly linked to extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy.

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 step the United States or any country has ever taken to cut global warming emissions.

By comparing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in 2012 to total carbon emissions of entire countries, the Environment New York 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.

●      TC Ravenswood, LLC, based in Long Island City, Queens, is New York’s largest global warming polluter, followed by Somerset Operating Co., LLC, in Barker and New Athens Generating Company, LLC, in Athens.

●      In total, New York’s five dirtiest power plants released approximately eleven million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2012.

●      Although none break the 100 dirtiest in the nation, together the top 5 New York plants contribute 32% of the New York power sector’s total emissions—an amount equivalent to 2,208,000,000,000 passenger vehicles.

●      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 and in New York. In 2013, there were more than 140,000 solar jobs in the U.S., including 5,000 in New York. The wind industry employs 75,000 people around the country, and these numbers will only increase.  

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 business owners and dozens of members of Congress have all voiced support for limits on carbon pollution. 

State Senator Tony Avella, Vice Chairman of the Environment Conservation Committee, stated, “Although New York has taken significant steps to cut down its carbon pollution, this report clearly demonstrates that more action must be taken to promote and invest in clean energy within our State. With the climate changing at an alarming rate, it is long overdue for the State Legislature to enact meaningful reform in support of solar and wind power production.” 

 “Individuals like U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand are true climate champs who are leading the way in cutting pollution and shifting to clean energy,” said Leibowitz. “The Environmental Protection Agency should encourage more states to follow New York’s lead.”, one of the leading forces behind the upcoming People’s Climate March, joined Environment New York across from the UN Building in Manhattan to release the new report. 

 “In three days, 100,000 people will swarm the streets of midtown Manhattan to demand real solutions from our leaders on climate change,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of “It’s inexcusable that in the most prosperous country on Earth, we’re dragging our feet when it comes to transitioning off power generated by dirty power plants towards a sustainable and reliable clean energy grid. This report shows what’s at stake in our march on Sunday, and why clean power has to be one of the solutions as we address the larger climate crisis.”