Power Plants Remain America’s Largest Source of Global Warming Pollution

Media Releases

Environment Washington

Seattle, WA – Less than a year after Washington’s severe winter storms of 2012 that left 275 people without power and an estimated $32 million in damage, a new report from Environment Washington Research & Policy Center finds that for Washington, TransAlta’s power company is the state’s biggest carbon polluter, producing as much global warming pollution as 1,115,642 cars each year. Even as Washington State’s renewable energy standard works to cut carbon pollution and transition Washington to clean energy, power plants remain the single largest source of carbon pollution in America. Scientists predict that extreme weather events 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 the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming,” said Katrina Rosen, Field Director for Environment Washington.  “If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can’t afford to ignore power plants’ overwhelming contribution to global warming.  For America, 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 Washington’s power sector and ranks Washington’s biggest carbon polluters.

Key findings from the report include:

  • In Washington, the top five most polluting power plants are TransAlta Centralia Generation, River Road Glen Plant, March Point Cogeneration, Mint Farm Generating Station, Chehalis Generating Facility
  • America’s power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution – responsible for 40 percent of emissions nationwide.
  • The most carbon-polluting power plant in the nation – Georgia Power Company’s Scherer Plant – emits as much carbon pollution as 4.4 million cars.
  • Washington’s power plants produce as much carbon each year as 2,700,000 million cars.

“Due to climate change, Washington State faces severe water supplies issues with the decline of mountain snowpack as well as increased risk of drought, wildfires and extreme rainfall,” said Peter Mazza, Research Director for Climate Solutions.  “The Washington coast and Puget Sound already face some of the worst ocean acidification on earth.”

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.  78,634 Washingtonians have already submitted public comments in support of limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

Washington State clean energy policies have made Washington a leader in climate solutions.  “We passed legislation to phase out our only coal plant and are investing in renewable energy,” said Representative Dave Upthegrove, Chair of the Washington State House Environment Committee. “But this report shows that we can’t solve the climate crisis without tackling the biggest national source of carbon pollution.  It’s time for America to follow Washington’s lead and rise to the challenge.”

Environment Washington called on state leaders to join them in supporting limits on power plants’ carbon pollution. “Washington can’t afford to wait to act on climate, so it’s critical that our leaders step up and support action,” said Katrina.


Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, visit www.EnvironmentWashington.org.


staff | TPIN

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