LADWP Power Plants Make List of 50 Dirtiest in U.S.

DWP's Intermountain Power Plant in Utah, the 29th dirtiest power plant in the US in terms of greenhouse gas emissions | Photo: arbyreed/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A new report on the climate impacts of America's power generation lists a coal-fired plant operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) among the nation's 50 dirtiest power plants. Released Tuesday by the group Environment California, the report reveals that the 50 electrical power plants in the U.S. with the worst greenhouse gas emissions account for a staggering 2 percent of the global total.

That means that those 50 U.S. power plants emit more greenhouse gases than all but six nations worldwide.

No power plants in California made the list of the fifty filthiest, but that's in part due to the fact that California imports its coal-fired electrical power from out of state. LADWP's 1,900-megawatt Intermountain Power Plant in Delta Utah, number 29 on Environment California's list, sends 80 percent of its power to California. That power plant emits 12 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to the tailpipe emissions of 2.5 million passenger cars.

Well ahead of Intermountain's number 28 spot on the list is the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, ranked the tenth-worst emitter among U.S. power plants. Navajo, which also sells power to the LADWP, emits nearly 16 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

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To its credit, the LADWP is working to kick its coal habit, having pledged to sever its ties with Navajo by 2015 and Intermountain by 2025.

Acoording to the report, entitled America's Dirtiest Power Plants: Their Oversized Contribution to Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, the U.S. has more than 6,000 working power plants, making the list of the top 50 dirtiest plants in the country is a serious distinction. Probably surprising no one, all 50 of the dirtiest power plants in Environment California's estimation are coal-fired, wiith top "honors" going to Georgia Power's 33,520-megawatt Scherer Plant in Juliette, Georgia. At more than 21 million tons of CO2 emitted annually, Scherer is the U.S.'s largest greenhouse gas emitter, and the world's 20th-largest.

As California has historically outsourced its coal-burning to other states, the five top-emitting power plants inside the state are gas-fired plants. They are, in descending order of emissions:

"America's dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming," said Environment California's Emily Kirkland. "If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can't ignore power plants' overwhelming contribution to global warming. Tackling the problem of climate change means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants."

About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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