According to data provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Environmental Integrity reports reveal that carbon dioxide emissions from US power plants rose over 5% last year. The top ten emitting states, from high to low, are Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri.
One thing most of these states have in common is coal. While coal-fired boilers accounted for 45% US electricity in 2010, 81% of total CO2 emissions also came from electricity generation last year. About half of new coal-fired power generation in the US in 2010 came from Texas, accounting for seven times the total CO2 emissions from power plants in California.
Texas will be the biggest challenge as the USEPA combats Congressional Republicans on the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this month, Representative Joe L Barton of Texas said, “The EPA and the Obama administration have decided that they want to put the American economy in a straitjacket, costing us millions of jobs and billions of dollars a years.”
Saturday morning, Republicans in the House approved a spending bill that would cut a third of the EPA’s funds. As Texas, especially, pushes for billions of dollars to be cut from the agency’s budget, regulating greenhouse gas regulations will be compromised. Though unlikely to pass in the Senate, the debate is heating up…almost as fast our planet.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace has recently launched an aggressive campaign against American coal plants on a Coal Free Future Tour. Last week, the organization staged a major act of civil disobedience against coal at the Bridgeport Harbor coal plant in Connecticut. According to Greenpeace, Bridgeport was targeted for its notorious inefficiency in a neighborhood where 1 in 4 residents have asthma. This spring, we can expect to see Greenpeace targeting specific coal plants across the nation similarly.
On a positive note…
While recent data reveals the rise of coal in some parts of the country, the overall trend is a significant rise in alternative energy. Wind energy is up 26% and natural gas fired plants are up almost 7%, according to Coal Geology. The tone has been set for a heavy development in renewable energy alternatives this year, such as nuclear, solar, geothermal, wind, tidal, hydroelectric power. Not to mention the new jobs such investments create, of course.