November 26, 2014

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Study says Ohio power plants 2nd-most polluting in US

LORAIN — Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center is asking Ohio to clean up its power plants, releasing a study Tuesday that reports Ohio’s power plants are the second-most polluting in the country. 

The group blames carbon emissions from these plants as fueling extreme global warming-related weather events.

The study was presented to city leaders Tuesday at Lorain City Hall in an effort to garner support for additional regulations on U.S. power plants.

This summer, President Barack Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. The EPA is expected to propose an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants on Sept. 20, according to a news release from Environment Ohio.

Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Ohio’s air, water and open spaces by investigating problems and educating the public, according to its website.

Gus Fuguitt, field organizer for Environment Ohio, said studies show that the state has six power plants ranked as the top 100 carbon polluters in the country, according to “America’s Dirtiest Power Plants: Their Oversized Contribution to Global Warming and What We Can Do About It.”

But the problems aren’t limited to Ohio, according to the study compiled by Environment Ohio and the Frontier Group.

There are nearly 6,000 electricity-generating facilities in the U.S., but most of the global warming pollution emitted by the U.S. power sector comes from a handful of exceptionally dirty plants.

Environment Ohio said that approximately 30 percent of all power-sector carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 came from 50 facilities.

According to the study, if the 50 most-polluting U.S. power plants were an independent nation, it would be the seventh-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, behind Germany and ahead of South Korea. Those plants account for 2 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide pollution.

“America’s dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming,” Fuguitt said. “If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can’t afford to ignore power plants’ overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Ohio, tackling the problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants.”

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Stephanie Thornton criticized the study, saying that it does not take into account the size of the plants included on the list or the efficiency with which they produce power.

FirstEnergy’s W.H. Sammis power plant, in Stratton, was listed as one of Ohio’s top five polluters, but Thornton said larger facilities, like the Sammis plant, which is one of the largest plants in Ohio, will have more emissions than smaller plants.

She said the company, along with the power plant, has been taking steps to reduce pollutants and emissions over the last two decades and is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent by 2015.

The company also has plans to invest approximately  $650 million in additional environmental controls at its fossil units over the next several years, she said in a written email response.

Fuguitt, who is stationed in Lorain working to generate support for stricter regulations, said there are no federal limits on carbon dioxide pollution from plants.

Fuguitt said it’s important to reduce emissions, because science shows that carbon pollution is fueling global warming, which he said leads to severe weather phenomenon like superstorm Sandy in 2012. Carbon dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas driving global warming, and power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the U.S., according to research quoted in the study.

Proponents of the energy industry have argued that strict regulations have hurt the industry, however.

In March 2012, GenOn Energy Inc., a nationwide energy generator, announced it would close seven of its coal-powered plants across Ohio and Pennsylvania, including one in Avon Lake. The company cited costly environmental regulations as the reason.

The closures represented a loss of 3,140 megawatts — the standard term of measurement for bulk electricity — in generating capacity as well as countless jobs.

Lorain Councilman Tony Richardson, D-at large, who was a speaker at Tuesday’s presentation, said action needs to be taken to reduce emissions, but Environment Ohio is not looking to hurt the coal industry.

“This is not an attack on coal-powered plants, coal workers or the coal industry. I’m fully aware of the costs associated with investing in clean-coal technology, but we have a duty to preserve our environment, and placing restrictions on coal-powered plants that emit high levels of pollution will certainly help reduce our carbon footprint,” he said. “Global warming is a threat to humanity, and it’s important that we remain proactive and diligent in addressing this eminent issue.”

Richardson cited several promising local steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, such as Oberlin College’s initiative to reduce its “carbon footprint” below zero. The college became the 18th city in the world to join the Climate Positive Development Program, also known as the Clinton Climate Initiative. The initiative was launched in May 2009 by former President Bill Clinton to demonstrate climate positive ways in which cities can grow.

Fuguitt also praised Filtrexx International, a Grafton-based company that is dedicated to “green” practices and is working to become a carbon-negative company. Filtrexx’s Marketing and outreach coordinator Kristin Nix also served as a speaker on Tuesday.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.

FYI: Environment Ohio is holding a campaign kick-off meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at El Centro, 2800 Pearl Ave., Lorain. The organization will provide information on future events, including rallies, media events, letter-writing campaigns and collecting petitions.


  • Mark B

    Really , the global warming HOAX is still going ? USA with its 320 million people are going to save the planet . China has 1,359,860,000. India 1,233,720,000. If every single person in the USA stoped useing any type of fossil fuel tomorrow , it would make no difference with china and india both haveing 1 Billion more people poluting than the USA with it 320 million people. This is nothing more than Obamas war on Coal and Oil , soon it will be costing americans $1000.00 a month to heat and cool your home.

    • Taipan

      I think the same in Australia. We only have 23 million and USA are not doing anything major about the problem yet, but we have a carbon tax. I bet the India are thinking China hasnt done anything yet and China is thinking well USA has done anything yet. Just a big circle. I honestly don’t care about climate change. We can adapt and other organisms that can’t will die. Even if we humans just vanished climate change would still occur but slower. Coal and Oil are not an infinite thing so alternatives need to be developed. Unfortunately they are not at a level of bulk distribution that can compete with coal yet and many counties are scared of Nuclear.

      • Mark B

        America has enough natural gas to compare with saudi arabia with oil , but our goverment prevents us from useing it. Its all political . when all the coal and oil is gone there will be a replacement. America is the cleanest enviromentally any where in the world , but the tree huggers think americans should change their lifestyle to save the planet , all at the same time china and india have no epa and their polution is 1000 times worse. More restrictions = higher cost of living and less jobs and more on the goverment welfare dole , soon to be the end of freedom in america.

        • Taipan

          Oh please American’s have no idea what high price of living is. Here our petrol is $US5.80 a US Gallon (~$AUD1.55/litre). I won’t get detailed into power prices but we have the highest in the world even though we export 4 times more coal then the USA and we don’t have a single nuclear power plant. You guys have it good when it comes to costs of living and it is pretty ignorant to be complaining about it.

          • Pablo Jones

            Well I guess that is what separates the US from other countries in the world. Citizens in other countries around the world bend over and take whatever their country gives them and the most of the citizens in the US don’t. How is it ignorant to want and fight for policies that improve your country’s economy as well as the standard of living of it’s people?

            It is foolish on your part to say we are ignorant for complaining about high costs. Our complaining and the actions that people and businesses in our country take that keep those prices low. Maybe if the people in your country complained more you wouldn’t have to pay a carbon tax that will make no difference.

          • Taipan

            Yes Americans don’t bend over to their government (one word “PRISM” lol). Australian politics are completely opposite of your assumptions, We just elected a new party who are abolishing the carbon tax, but then again it would be strange for an American to be following our politics in detail. I sure don’t for America.The reason for our high price/cost of living is mainly in part due to our remote geographical location and high nominal GDP per capita (higher then the US). We have minimal manufacturing but massive mineral exports therefore import a lot of products particularly from China and the US. Even though we have a high cost of living we still have the second highest development behind Norway. I am not sure what our cost of living compares to yours when we factor the difference in nominal GDP per capita, but it would narrow the margin considerably for most things except for oil. Oil price bites hard here but there is nothing we can do about it since it is all imported from the US.

    • Don Grantzki

      Au Contraire! This war on global warming is in full swing! The
      Obummerites are considering outlawing squirrel hunting in order to
      employ these noble creatures to drive cages that will produce enough
      current to power a 2 w light bulb. Then we will all be expected to
      gather around that light bulb in order to keep warm.

  • Sean Nichols
  • Mark B

    Americans will save the planet , yea right

  • Pablo Jones

    Over $50 billion has been spent on solar and wind power in the US over the last couple years. After all that spending the result is no change in CO2 emissions. A small fraction of that money could have been used to improve coal plants or switch over to natural gas and would have resulted in significant reductions in CO2. But the environmentalists don’t want that, they just want wind and solar. That is proof they really don’t care about the environment.

  • Heath J

    Consider the source..