Texas Power Plants Pollute as much as 45.9 Million Cars

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Texas Ranks 1st in Global Warming Pollution from Power Plants

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN – Amid Texas’ devastating statewide drought, a new report from Environment Texas Research & Policy Center finds that Texas ranks number one in the country for most carbon pollution from its power plants, the state’s largest single source of global warming pollution. Scientists predict that extreme weather events, like droughts, will become more frequent and severe for future generations, unless we cut the dangerous carbon pollution fueling the problem.

“America’s dirtiest power plants are putting Texas in the frying pan when it comes to global warming,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas.  “If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can’t afford to ignore power plants’ overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Texas, tackling the problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants.”

The report, titled, America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, comes as the Obama administration readies a new set of rules to tackle global warming. It illustrates the scale of carbon pollution from Texas’ power sector and ranks Texas’ biggest carbon polluters.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Texas’ power plants are the number one most polluting in the country.
  • In Texas, the top five most polluting power plants are Martin Lake, W.A. Parish, Monticello, Limestone, and Welsh.
  • Texas’ power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution – responsible for 34% percent of statewide emissions.
  • The Fayette Power Project, co-owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority and the city of Austin, ranked 37th dirtiest for carbon emissions in the country, putting out as much pollution as 2.26 million cars.
  • Luminant Generation Company LLC’s Martin Lake and Monticello Power Plants are the 3rd and 17th most carbon-polluting power plants in the nation.
  • NRG Texas Power’s W.A. Parish and Limestone power plants are ranked 5th and 19th most carbon polluting in the nation.
  • Texas’ power plants combined produce as much carbon each year as 45.9 million cars.

“Texas has shown that it can rank among the leaders in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind,” said Alyssa Burgin, director of The Texas Drought Project. “There are limitless opportunities for non-polluting energy generation systems which will help mitigate the effects of climate change in the future. We call upon Texas leaders to do their part to protect the health of Texans and to protect the climate as a whole, rather than remain beholden to fossil fuel producers.”

This summer, President Obama directed his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single source of carbon pollution. In a major step, the EPA is expected to propose an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants on September 20. Americans have already submitted 3.2 million public comments in support of limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

“With continuing residential and industrial development in low lying lands, gradual but accelerating sea level rise, and events like Hurricane Ike likely becoming more frequent and severe, Texas is already feeling the impacts of climate change,” said Thomas Colbert, Associate Professor at University of Houston College of Architecture and researcher for the SSPEED (Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters) center. “Things will only get worse for us and our children if we fail to take swift and bold action now.”

“Climate change is the most important environmental issue of our time,” Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) said. “Every day that we fail to address it in a comprehensive manner is a day Texas loses to a drier and hotter future. We have a moral obligation to act.”

 Senator Sylvia R. Garcia (D-Houston) joined Ellis in calling for action on global warming. “As with all things, environmental governance is about the balance of promoting growth without sacrificing the health and safety of our citizens,” Garcia said. “I am grateful to have a group like Environment Texas be our watchdogs, and I hope this report spurs action among our industry groups.”

“Whether it’s the Bastrop fires, record low lake levels, or the closure of the Cargill plant in Plainview, Texans are feeling the economic impacts of climate disruption,” said Dave Cortez, organizing representative for the Sierra Club.  “These much-needed safeguards serve as yet another reminder to cities like Austin and San Antonio that now is the time to responsibly retire our coal plants and transition to a cleaner, more drought-resistant energy economy.”