Virginia’s power plants major global warming polluters
As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows Virginia’s coal-fired power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as the entire nation of Croatia.
“When power plants here in Virginia create as much pollution as an entire country, we know the climate’s in trouble,” said Sarah Bucci, Campaign Director for Environment Virginia. “It’s time to stop ignoring the nation’s largest global-warming polluter, and start investing in clean energy.”
The Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center report,America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, comes as more than a hundred thousand activists, including over 700 Virginians, and world leaders converge in New York City seeking solutions to climate change, which scientists have clearly linked to extreme weather events and the rising seas seen in the Hampton Roads region.
The report also comes as the Environmental Protection Agency takes public comments on the Clean Power Plan, the proposed, first-ever, 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.
By comparing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in 2012 to total carbon emissions of entire countries, the Environment Virginia analysis shows why limiting pollution from coal plants would make such a big impact. Key findings include:
- Virginia’s power plants emit the equivalent carbon pollution of 5.3 million vehicles on the road, making up 25% of the state’s total emissions.
- The Chesterfield Power Station, located outside of Richmond Virginia, is the state’s largest global warming polluter.
- If the United States’ fleet of coal- and gas-burning power plants were a country, it would be the 3rd-largest carbon polluter, behind the entire US and China.
- Environmental Protection Agency’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, emits today.
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 Virginia.
“Protecting our environment and climate is a win-win for places like the City of Charlottesville. We’re already using energy efficiency and clean energy programs to reduce pollution, create jobs and save residents and the City money,” said Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Dede Smith. “Limits on carbon pollution from power plants could help spur even more clean energy here in Virginia.”
Virginians are already investing in clean energy by creating community solar co-op programs. Members of the “Solarize” programs go through the process of purchasing solar systems together, allowing members of the co-op to save up to 30 percent off the cost of installing a solar system and having the support of a group instead of trying to go it alone. “Solarize” groups have formed, and are forming across the commonwealth including initiatives in Blacksburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Leesburg, Northern Virginia and Floyd.
“The growing Solarize movement across the state demonstrates that Virginians of all political affiliations are serious about clean energy,” said Aaron Sutch, Virginia Program Director with the Community Power Network. “Already, hundreds of people (in Virginia) are part of Solarize programs helping homeowners and business to save on rising energy costs while producing clean, renewable energy.”
And Virginians have shown their support for climate action and clean energy in droves. To date, Virginians have submitted more than 195,000 public comments to the EPA supporting limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Over the summer over one hundred Virginians turned out to listening sessions held by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to speak out in support of the Clean Power Plan and urge Governor Terry McAuliffe to support the plan and use this opportunity to boost Virginia’s commitment to energy efficiency and wind and solar power.
Nationally, Americans have submitted more than 6 million comments to the EPA in support of these limits 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 businesses owners and dozens of members of Congress have all voiced support for limits on carbon pollution.
“The Clean Power Plan has given Virginia a huge opportunity to cut dangerous carbon pollution and take charge of our energy future,” said Bucci. “Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Governor Terry McAuliffe should back the EPA’s plan and work to make Virginia a leader in clean energy.”