In preparation for the United Nations Climate Summit—when more than a hundred thousand activists and leaders worldwide will converge in New York City seeking solutions to climate change—a new study shows New York’s coal-fired power plants cause as much carbon pollution as the entire country of Tunisia.
“When power plants here in New York create as much pollution as an entire country, we know the climate’s in trouble,” said Director of Environment New York Heather Leibowitz. “It’s time to stop ignoring the nation’s largest global-warming polluters, and start investing in clean energy.”
According to the Environment New York Research and Policy Center report on America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, scientists have clearly linked climate change to extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy.
The report also comes as the Environmental Protection Agency take public comments on a proposal, which would be first-ever to place limits on carbon pollution from power plants. If enacted, the limits would be the largest step the United States or any country has ever taken to cut global warming emissions.
Comparing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in 2012 to total carbon emissions of entire countries, the report shows the potential impact that limiting pollution from coal plants would have.
Some key findings include:
•National Grid Generation in Northport is the 5th dirtiest plant in New York State.
•11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atomsphere in 2012 from New York’s five dirtiest power plants.
•Although none break the 100 dirtiest in the nation, together the top 5 New York plants contribute 32 percent of the New York power sector’s total emissions—an amount equivalent to 2.2 trillion passenger vehicles.
•EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan would reduce as much carbon pollution in 2030 as the entire country of Canada, the world’s 8th-largest polluter.
The Clean Power Plan would also spur investments in clean energy like wind and solar power, for which there is vast potential across the country and in New York. In 2013, there were more than 140,000 solar jobs in the U.S., including 5,000 in New York. The wind industry employs 75,000 people around the country, and these numbers will only increase.
“Although New York has taken significant steps to cut down its carbon pollution, this report clearly demonstrates that more action must be taken to promote and invest in clean energy within our State,” said Vice Chairman of the Environment Conservation Committee, New York State Sen. Tony Avella. “With the climate changing at an alarming rate, it is long overdue for the State Legislature to enact meaningful reform in support of solar and wind power production.”
Americans have submitted more than 6 million comments to EPA supporting limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and more than a thousand people testified in support of the Clean Power Plan at hearings held across the country this summer. Local elected officials, small business owners and dozens of members of Congress have all voiced support for limits on carbon pollution.
“Individuals like U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand are true climate champs who are leading the way in cutting pollution and shifting to clean energy,” said Leibowitz. “The Environmental Protection Agency should encourage more states to follow New York’s lead.”