Climate Change
5:38 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Missouri’s Power Plants Among Worst U.S. Greenhouse Gas Polluters

This report by the Environment America Research & Policy Center says coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution.
Credit Environment America

Missouri's coal-fired power plants are among the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution in the country and a significant contributor to global warming.

That's according to a new report released this week by the advocacy group Environment America.

The report ranks Missouri tenth among U.S. states when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Neighboring Illinois ranks seventh.

Missouri and Illinois are among the states that produced the most carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in 2010.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Environment Missouri's Stuart Keating says right now, there are no federal regulations limiting how much carbon dioxide power plants can release.

"And coal-fired power plants really are the elephant in the room here in terms of carbon dioxide pollution,” Keating said. “They're the single largest source in the country.”

Keating says coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of all U.S. CO2 emissions.

According to the report, Ameren's Labadie power plant produced about 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2011.

That represents the fourth most emissions of any power plant, nationwide.

In 2010, Missouri produced a total of 137.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide burning fossil fuels. More than half of that amount came from coal-fired power plants.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren's Mike Menne says Labadie is high on the list because it's very big ― and no technology exists to control carbon dioxide emissions.

"What we try and do is make the plant as efficient as possible, and we have done some of those things over the years at the Labadie plant," Menne said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed limits on CO2 emissions from new power plants in March 2012, but never finalized the regulations. The agency is scheduled to issue an updated draft late next week.

But proposed limits for existing plants aren't expected until June 2014.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter@KWMUScience