The top ten biggest polluters contribute a combined 187.3 million metric tons of GHG pollution each year – equal to the average annual emissions for over 36 million cars.
by Jackie Weidman
For the first time, Americans have access to comprehensive data from industrial sources that are responsible for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution.
This pollution data highlights the nation’s top climate polluters, including the number one emitting power plant in the United States: Georgia’s Scherer coal-fired power station. Owned by Southern Company, Scherer pumped out nearly 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2010.
Two other plants operated by Southern Company in the Southeastern U.S. — the Bowen plant in Bowen, Georgia and the James H. Miller, Jr. plant in Quinton, Alabama — were the second and third largest polluters in America.
The EPA database includes 80 percent of total U.S. global warming pollution, including emissions from over 6,700 of the largest industrial sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The EPA defines these emitters as “big emissions sources,” contributing a minimum of 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
- Power plants are responsible for 72 percent of greenhouse gases from large emitters (which do not include cars and buildings), pumping 2.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution into the atmosphere each year.
- 100 facilities, 96 of which are power plants, reported annual emissions over 7 million metric tons.
- Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana are the top five dirtiest states respectively, responsible for 30 percent of the nation’s annual power plant emissions.
While comprehensive, the registry is not yet complete. It does not include carbon dioxide and other greenhouse pollution from motor vehicles or agribusiness. As Think Progress Green reports, the exclusion of industrial agriculture pollution is due to a loophole inserted by the House of Representatives to protect Big Agriculture.
However, the EPA will soon require reporting from additional industry groups for 2011 data, including petroleum and natural gas systems, industrial wastewater treatment, electronic manufacturing, and industrial waste landfills. The EPA also plans to update the data as it’s received, which will soon be available in a searchable database to allow for more comprehensive analysis.
EPA’s disclosure of the major sources of climate pollution is a major accomplishment. The administration’s greenhouse gas registry will help educate the public, press, legislators, and other government officials about the sources and amounts of climate altering pollution. Hopefully this will increase urgency and support for carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas pollution reductions, which are already long overdue.
Our fact-checking revealed that empirical estimates of energy rebound cited by the Breakthrough Institute are over-estimated or wrong, and they contradict the technological reality of energy efficiency gains observed in many industrial sectors. For journalists, the Rebound Effect is a trap—it is a man-bites-dog story that never happened.
Energy efficiency policies work, a new study finds, especially when they are broad and deep and sustained, as in the case of California.
by Shakeb Afsah and Kendyl Salcito and Chris Wielga, in a report for CO2 Scorecard
Energy efficiency is an over-rated policy tool when it comes to cutting energy use and CO2 emissions—that’s the basic message promoted by the US think tank the Breakthrough Institute (BTI), and amplified in major news outlets like the New Yorker and the New York Times. Their logic is that every action to conserve energy through efficient use leads to an opposite reaction to consume more energy—a “rebound” mechanism, which, according to the BTI, can negate as much as 60-100% of saved energy, and in some cases can backfire to increase net energy consumption.
In this research note we refute this policy message and show that the BTI, as well as its champions in the media, have overplayed their hand, supporting their case with anecdotes and analysis that don’t measure up against theory and data….
We provide new statistical evidence to show that energy efficiency policies and programs can reliably cut energy use—a finding that is consistent with the policy stance of leading experts and organizations like the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the World Bank. Additionally, we take our policy message one step further—by using new insights from the emerging multi-disciplinary literature on “energy efficiency gap,” we recommend that the world needs more energy efficiency policies and programs to cut greenhouse gases—not less as implied by the BTI and its cohorts in the media.
Is energy efficiency a curse in disguise? This policy instrument, long held in high esteem and considered to be the single most pragmatic choice currently available for cutting energy use and CO2 emissions, has recently come under question.
The past year has been particularly hard on energy efficiency, handing it a major thrashing in the press. Much of the literature behind these news reports flow from a young US think tank called The Breakthrough Institute (BTI). The BTI has applied the concept of a “Rebound Effect” to characterize energy efficiency policies as a medicine whose side-effects outweigh the benefits. Energy efficiency, they say, is self-defeating because it creates incentives for more energy use.
Propagated last year in a number of reports, the Rebound Effect has become another policy dispute on the climate turf. It calls into question the calculations of reputable organizations like the International Energy Agency (IEA), McKinsey & Company, British Petroleum, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) who estimate that energy efficiency alone can cut greenhouse gases by 25-40%.
The Rebound Effect deserves to be taken seriously, not just because there is an undeniable trend in global energy use to show that humanity has never successfully decreased energy use, but also because the idea is extremely powerful for those seeking reasons to disregard efficiency – whether in support of an alternate climate initiatives or in opposition to climate change in general. If the Rebound Effect can take back as much as 60-100% of energy savings, as implied by the narrative sketched by the BTI, there is no way that the world can achieve the projected reductions in GHG emissions from energy efficient approaches. In essence, the Rebound Effect has the power to derail climate policy as a whole, simply by calling into question energy efficiency.
Recognizing this seriousness, we began a detailed investigation of the economics and the science behind the Rebound Effect. We examined the sources of energy Rebound resurgence, finding that the current polemic against energy efficiency is largely fuelled by a study that is neither published nor peer-reviewed. We review the literature on energy Rebound at household and production-sector levels and identify weaknesses in both the source data and the methodology employed by Rebound’s proponents. We not only disprove the claims of Reboundistas but through our original statistical analysis we reaffirm that energy efficiency policies indeed reduce per capita energy use.Read more
The industry is pushing for the drilling process, also known as fracking, to take place not far from the Syracuse and New York City watersheds. This has caused some concern since fracking can harm the surrounding environment, poison nearby water sources, and even cause earthquakes. But the New York Daily News reports that drillers and utilities really want this to get started:
In pushing for state approval of hydrofracking, the natural gas industry has pumped $1.34 million into the coffers of New York politicians and their parties, a new study revealed. The donations were sprinkled around over the last four years as lawmakers and state officials debated whether to allow the controversial drilling process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation upstate, Common Cause New York said in its report.[...]
Common Cause’s study included not only gas drillers and producers, but some public utilities — including Con Edison and National Grid — that have stakes in gas distribution networks, Lerner said. The bulk of gas industry donations — some 75% — went to candidates for state legislature, including $448,359 given to Republican state Senate candidates and their campaign organizations. Another $217,901 was spent on Democratic candidates for state Senate and their campaign organizations. Gov. Cuomo’s campaign committee took in $153,816 from the gas industry, according to Common Cause.
The top ten recipients combined took in $231,557 in industry cash from January 2007 to October 2011, including $38,532 to the George Maziarz (R-Buffalo-Rochester), chair of the Senate’s Energy Committee, and $26,800 to Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster County), the chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee.
The industry says it is only making these contributions to combat a well-funded effort on the other side. But as the donations show, they are also having to deal with a hesitant legislature which is discussing the extension of a fracking moratorium, not to mention some public pressure against the procedure.
The deadline for public comments on proposed fracking plans was Wednesday, January 11th. Environmental and pro-drilling groups submitted thousands of comments to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. A report is expected from the agency some time this year.
– Zachary Bernstein
We have 1.4 trillion barrels of oil, enough to last at least 200 years. We have 2.7 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to last 120 years. We have 486 billion tons of coal, enough to last more than 450 years—and we need to use more of this strategic resource cleanly and wisely here at home while selling it around the world.
Burning that amount of fossil fuel would generate 444 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the oil, 135 billion tons from the natural gas, and 1.258 trillion tons from the coal. To maintain a climate compatible with civilization all of humanity needs to limit future greenhouse pollution to less than 650 billion tons.
Far from “keeping the American Dream alive for generation after generation,” as Donohue claims, his promotion of catastrophic global warming would grant a diminished, deadly world to future generations.
Read Donohue’s remarks promoting the destruction of civilization:
Let’s start with a big one—energy.
Our nation is on the cusp of an energy boom that is already creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, revitalizing entire communities, and reinvigorating American manufacturing.
Unconventional oil and natural gas development is on pace to create more than 300,000 jobs by 2015 in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia alone. Take a look at what’s happening in North Dakota. The state is booming. Unemployment is at 3.4%. Oil production just surpassed that of Ecuador—one of the members of OPEC.
Energy is a game changer for the United States. It is, as the saying goes, “the next big thing.” With the right policies, the oil and natural gas industry could create more than 1 million jobs by 2018. Not only can we create jobs, but we can cut our dependence on overseas imports while adding hundreds of billions of dollars to government coffers in the coming years.
Recent discoveries have confirmed that this nation is truly blessed with energy resources. We have 1.4 trillion barrels of oil, enough to last at least 200 years. We have 2.7 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to last 120 years. We have 486 billion tons of coal, enough to last more than 450 years–and we need to use more of this strategic resource cleanly and wisely here at home while selling it around the world.
To tap our energy resources, we must speed up permitting and end many of the restrictions that have put key areas off-limits. Instead of handpicking a few technologies, we must harness all our resources, traditional and alternative—while expanding nuclear power and driving greater efficiency.
Our biggest and most reliable foreign energy supplier is Canada. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would bring Canadian oil sands down to our Gulf Coast refineries and to other destinations along the way.
This project has passed every environmental test. There is no legitimate reason—none at all—to subject it to further delay. Labor unions and the business community alike are urging President Obama to act in the best interests of our national security and our workers and approve the pipeline. We can put 20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project.
Donohue also expressed disappointment with Republican attacks on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, calling them “foolish” and “not doing anything other than setting up the ad base for their opponents.”
I’m super-excited to be judging the quarterfinal round of this year’s Tournament of Books at The Morning News. For those of you who haven’t done it before, 16 critics read through 16 of the top books published in the previous year, and they advance through the brackets in concert with the NCAA season. So if you’re looking for a good read, check out State of Wonder, The Sisters Brothers, Swamplandia!, The Cat’s Table, The Marriage Plot, Green Girl, The Art of Fielding, or Open City. Their fates will be in my hands!
RWE Germany’s second-largest utility, plans to invest about EUR 5bn ($6.4bn) in renewable energy ventures in four years as the country exits nuclear-power generation.
Projects include a EUR 1 bn offshore wind park in the German North Sea, as well as biomass plants and wind farms in the U.K. and Poland.
RWE plans to almost triple its wind power capacity in Poland to 300 MW by 2015.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is seeking to install 10 000 MW of sea-based wind turbines this decade as it raises the share of renewables in the energy mix.
EON AG, the country’s largest utility, said last month it will invest EUR 7 bn in renewable energy projects in five years.