Salem, OR – On the heels of Oregon’s largest and most devastating wildfires in over a decade, a new report from Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center finds that even as Oregon works to cut its reliance on dirty fossil fuels and transition to clean energy, power plants remain the single largest source of carbon pollution in America. Scientists predict that extreme weather events, like wildfires, will become more frequent and severe for future generations, unless we cut the dangerous carbon pollution fueling the problem.
“America's dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming," said Charlie Fisher, field organizer for Environment Oregon. "If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can't afford to ignore power plants' overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Oregon, tackling the problem means cleaning up America’s dirtiest power plants.”
The report, titled, ‘America’s Dirtiest Power Plants,’ comes as the Obama administration readies a new set of rules to tackle global warming this week. It illustrates the scale of carbon pollution from Oregon’s power sector and ranks the biggest carbon polluters around the country that Oregon still relies on for energy.
Key findings from the report include:
• While none of the power plants in Oregon are in the top 100, Oregon does get energy from 5 out-of-state power plants in the top 100: Montana’s Colstrip Steam Plant (#18), Wyoming’s Jim Bridger Steam Plant (#23,WY), Colorado’s Craig Station (#55), Utah’s Hunter Power Plant (#63), and Arizona’s Cholla Generating Station (#88). These power plants combine to produce as much carbon each year as 10.8 million cars.
• America’s power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution - responsible for 40 percent of emissions nationwide.
• The most carbon-polluting power plant in the nation – Georgia Power Company’s Scherer Plant – emits as much carbon pollution as 4.4 million cars.
• Power plants located in Oregon produce as much carbon each year as 2 million cars.
“Wind, solar, and energy efficiency have made Oregon a leader in climate solutions and we still have more to do,” said State Sen. Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland). “But this report shows that we can’t solve the climate crisis without tackling the biggest national source of carbon pollution – power plants.”
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 this Friday, September 20. More than 59,000 Oregonians have already submitted public comments in support of limiting carbon pollution from power plants.
“Over half of the counties in the U.S. have suffered severe weather catastrophes and been declared disaster areas in the last few years,” said Alan Journet, spokesperson for Southern Oregon Climate Action Network. “And the projections tell us this will only get worse if we fail to address the problem. Far from being unable to afford to address climate change, we cannot afford not to address it.
Environment Oregon called on state leaders like Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden to join them in supporting limits on power plants’ carbon pollution. “Oregon’s success with clean energy and energy efficiency means we have an obligation to lead on cutting carbon,” said Fisher.