Scientists predict that the extreme weather events that have hit Pennsylvania in the last few years will only become more frequent and severe for future generations, unless we cut the dangerous carbon pollution fueling the problem.
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 Pennsylvania’s power sector and ranks Pennsylvania’s biggest carbon polluters.
“America's dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming,” said Elowyn Corby, climate change and clean energy associate at PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can't afford to ignore power plants' overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Pennsylvania, tackling the problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants.”
Key findings from the report include
• Pennsylvania’s power plants are the 3rd most polluting in the country
• Pennsylvania’s power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution - responsible for 48 percent of statewide emissions.
• In Pennsylvania, the top five most polluting power plants are FirstEnergy Bruce Mansfield, Hatsfields Ferry Power Station, Keystone, Conemaugh, and the Homer City Station.
• Pennsylvania’s power plants produce as much carbon each year as 24.9 million cars.
“Year-by-year, the scientific evidence has grown ever more convincing. The world’s climate has warmed and changed due to the gases we put into the atmosphere,” said Neil Leary, director of the Dickenson Center for Sustainability Education. “Key to success is shifting electric power generation away from technologies that release large amounts of climate changing greenhouse gases.”
"We cannot afford any further delays in limiting the carbon pollution that increases the risk of floods, powerful storms, and dangerous heat waves. But we can lead the transition to clean energy and efficiency and create many family-supporting jobs in the process,” said Tom Schuster, campaign representative with the Sierra Club from Johnstown area.
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, 2013. Pennsylvanians have submitted over 200,000 public comments in support of limiting carbon pollution from power plants—with 3.2 million submitted nationwide.
“Coal-fired plants with technologies and equipment based in the 1940s do not belong in the 21st Century energy portfolio of Pennsylvania,” explained Bernie McGurl, executive director of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association. “We support the work needed to reclaim the environments of Pennsylvania watersheds and communities from the legacy of the coal industry while we protect our land, air and water resources from potential problems associated with the gas production industry.”
“I don’t think we want a summer climate in Pennsylvania similar to what Alabama has now, but that’s what we can expect without emissions reductions,” said Professor Raymond Najjar, Department of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University. “We’ve made changes before to clean our air and water, saving lives and money. It’s time to do the same thing with global warming pollution.”
Dr. Robert Little, of Pinnacle Health Family Care spoke in more detail about the public health risks associated with unmitigated global warming pollution, "Rising Carbon dioxide, CO2, contributes to global warming and it will cause more illness—asthma, infectious diseases and heat stroke." He went on to urge legislators to tackle these issues on the large scale.
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center called on state leaders like Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to join them in supporting limits on power plants’ carbon pollution. PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center also advocated state-level strategies to avert the worst impacts of climate change, including increasing the share of renewable energy in our energy portfolio and making Pennsylvania a leader again in terms of our green building standards.
“As people of faith, we have a responsibility to raise our voices in support of legislation and policies aimed at halting the activities that led us to this place—both for our sake and for sake of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters,” said Sandy Strauss, director of Public Advocacy for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.
“We in this nation and throughout the world have some big choices to make, and we have to make them soon, before it’s too late,” said Rev. William Thwing, pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. “It’s time we woke up and stopped this out of control freight train that is climate change.”
“Pennsylvania is the 3rd biggest emitter of carbon pollution from the biggest sources. We can’t afford to wait to act on climate, so it’s critical that Senator Casey and Toomey step up and support action now,” finished Corby.
PennEnvironment Research & Policy is a statewide, citizen based environmental organization that works for clean air, clean water and open spaces.