Macon, GA –Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center released a report today on the banks of the Ocmulgee River in Macon GA. The Riverwalk that runs along the Ocmulgee flooded earlier in the year following extreme rain events. The combination of heavy rains and extreme drought is a pattern that has been felt all over the state and is in line with what scientists predict will become more common due to climate change. Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center’s report ranks Georgia 8th in the country for most carbon pollution from its power plants, and ranks Plant Scherer as the number one largest single source of climate change pollution in the country.
“America's dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming," said Jennette Gayer, State Advocate for Environment Georgia. "If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can't afford to ignore power plants' overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Georgia, tackling the problem means cleaning up the 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. It illustrates the scale of carbon pollution from Georgia’s power sector and ranks Georgia’s biggest carbon polluters.
Key findings from the report include:
- Plant Scherer, owned in part by Georgia Power, is the #1 most carbon-polluting power plant in the nation and produces more carbon dioxide than the total energy related emissions of Maine.
- Georgia’s power plants are the 8th most polluting in the country.
- In Georgia, the top five most polluting power plants are Plant Scherer, Plant Bowen, Plant Wansley, Plant Harlee Branch, and Plant Yates.
- Georgia’s power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution - responsible for 46 percent of statewide emissions.
- Georgia’s power plants produce as much carbon each year as 16.5 million cars.
“With events like recent flooding on the Ocmulgee becoming more frequent and severe, Georgia is already feeling the impacts of global warming,” said Representative James Beverly (GA-143). “Things will only get worse for us and our children if we fail to take swift and bold action now.”
In addition to being home to the single largest carbon pollution emitter in the country Georgia also has the dubious distinction of being one of the few states where power companies are working to build new coal plants with no controls for their carbon emissions. The fate of Plant Washington, a plant proposed by Power4Georgians in Sandersville, GA, is in question.
“For us it is about dollars and cents,” said Katherine Cummings the Director of Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment, a group based in Washington County. “New coal plants and the coal power they produce are expensive, the cost of climate change—droughts, floods, forest fires, are also expensive.”
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. Americans have already submitted 3.2 million public comments in support of limiting carbon pollution from power plants.
Environment Georgia applauded Georgia Power for recent steps forward in solar and plant closures but pointed to Plant Scherer’s “#1 polluter” status as need for more work. “In Georgia we need to get to work on the pollution coming from our largest source and need to stop any new polluters like Plant Washington, the EPA’s rules will be critical in protecting Georgia for future generations.”