FutureStructure

Report: Power Plant Carbon Emissions on Decline

The U.S. is one of the world leaders in carbon emissions, but a new report shows a trend toward a sustainable future.

by / July 16, 2015
The new rule will require states to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to by 2030. AP/Jim Cole

Carbon emissions from U.S. power plants are decreasing, according a new 54-page report (PDF) based on the study and analysis of the nation’s 100 largest electric power producers, which account for 87 percent of the nation’s reported emissions. CO2 emissions for power plants, the report found, declined 12 percent between 2008 and 2013, despite economic growth.

The report, by M.J. Bradley & Associates, includes rankings of each electricity producer, market analysis and a state-by-state emissions summary. Texas, Florida and Idaho were identified as having the highest average CO2 emission rates in 2013, while Vermont, Idaho and Maine had the lowest CO2 emission rates.

Mindy Lubber, president of sustainability nonprofit Ceres and one the report’s benefactors, told Fierce Energy that the information found by the study demonstrates a positive trend in energy consumption.

"Most parts of the country are firmly on the path toward a clean energy future, but some states and utilities have a longer way to go, and overall the carbon emissions curve is still not bending fast enough," Lubber said. "To level the playing field for all utilities, and achieve the broader CO2 emissions cuts needed to combat climate change, we need final adoption of the Clean Power Plan."

The Clean Power Plan, a set of standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014, is one of the federal government’s initiatives designed to aim the nation toward renewable energy. Nearly 10 years after Al Gore’s documentary about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, the world attempts to separate junk science and political posturing from the true extent of human-caused global warming.

Most recently, EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy said the Clean Power Plan would yield “huge” benefits for the nation, while Texas Rep. Lamar Smith challenged her use of the term “huge” by pointing out that the EPA itself estimates the program might only reduce temperature projections for 2050 by 0.016 degrees. McCarthy responded from the philosophical standpoint that it’s a small change, but an important first step toward sustainability.

The United Nations predicts the global increase in temperature by 2050 will amount to between 1.8 and 3.6 degrees Celsius.