About Air and Water

Friday, July 27, 2007

Study says 9 Texas power plants among worst polluters,

A liberal dose - Copyright © 2007 - July 27, 2007
Texas is home to many of the nation's worst-polluting power plants for emissions of toxic mercury and greenhouse gases linked to global warming, according to a new study by a national nonprofit advocacy group.

Four East and East Central Texas power plants operated by TXU Corp. are highlighted in the study titled 'Dirty Kilowatts,' released Thursday by the Environmental Integrity Project, which ranked the nation's 50 biggest polluting power plants based mostly on 2006 federal data.

TXU's Martin Lake plant in Rusk County, about 170 miles east of Fort Worth, is the nation's top mercury polluting power plant, and the fifth-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the chief manmade greenhouse gas, according to the 63-page study.

But Dallas-based TXU announced last month that it will add pollution controls at the 2,250-megawatt Martin Lake plant, and three others, to reduce emissions of mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin linked to birth defects and developmental disorders.

'We're retrofitting these plants with state-of-the-art emission controls,' said Tom Kleckner, a company spokesman. 'We've worked with federal regulators to address emissions in the past and will continue to do so.'

Energy industry representatives note that carbon dioxide emissions from power plants decreased slightly from 2005 to 2006.

Still, more than 100 new power plants are planned nationwide in the next 25 years. These plants will dramatically increase carbon dioxide emissions over the next two decades unless the federal government regulates carbon for the first time, said Ilan Levin, an Austin attorney and the report's lead author.

'The best way to stop making the problem worse is to put a cap on carbon emissions,' said Bruce Nilles, Sierra Club's national coal campaign director.

The issue

Nine Texas power plants rank among the biggest emitters of toxic mercury and/or carbon dioxide, according to a study by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The study's authors want federal regulators to crack down on mercury from power plants and to regulate carbon dioxide for the first time. They warn that emissions of carbon will increase substantially over the next 25 years without carbon regulations.

Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, an industry trade group, said emissions from the proposed power plants 'are technologically advanced and well-controlled.'

What it means

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, and five power plants in East and East Central Texas are among the 10 biggest mercury polluters in the country, according to the study.

In addition, Texas already leads the nation in emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary manmade component of global warming. Two plants in East Texas rank among the 11 biggest carbon polluters.

Texas plants

The nine Texas power plants that rank among the leaders for emissions of mercury and/or carbon dioxide are:

Martin Lake, in Rusk County, operated by TXU Corp., ranked No. 1 for mercury emissions and No. 5 for carbon dioxide.

Monticello, in Titus County, operated by TXU, ranked No. 4 for mercury and No. 11 for carbon dioxide emissions.

Big Brown, in Freestone County, operated by TXU, ranked No. 6 for mercury emissions.

H.W. Pirkey, in Harrison County, operated by American Electric Power, ranked No. 8 for mercury.

Limestone, in Limestone County, operated by Texas Genco, ranked No. 10 for mercury, and No. 34 for carbon dioxide.

W.A. Parish, in Fort Bend County, operated by NRG Energy, ranked No. 16 for mercury and No. 6 for carbon dioxide.

Sandow, in Milam County, operated by TXU, ranked No. 41 for mercury.

O.W. Sommers, in Bexar County, operated by the city of San Antonio, ranked No. 43 for mercury.

Sam Seymour, in Fayette County, operated by the Lower Colorado River Authority, ranked No. 49 for carbon dioxide.

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