Environment
3:33 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Ranking Puts Kentucky No. 1 in Rate of Carbon Dioxide Pollution

The Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky
Credit Tennessee Valley Authority

A new report on U.S. power plant emissions says Kentucky has the highest rate of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation.

The report was produced by environmental advocacy groups, energy companies, and Bank of America.

Kentucky topped the ranking of states emitting the most carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of power produced, followed by Wyoming, West Virginia, and Indiana. Tennessee ranked 26th.

Dan Bakal is Director of Electric Power at CERES, one of the environmental groups that prepared the report. He says states like Kentucky can follow the example of Ohio, which has decreased its carbon emissions in recent years.

“They have really made a move to diversity their energy mix by shifting away from coal, increasing natural gas, increasing renewable energy, and also investing in energy efficiency in a very cost-effective way,” Bakal said.

Supporters of the coal industry—including Kentucky U.S Senator Mitch McConnell—say increased federal regulation is costing jobs and hurting local economies in places like eastern Kentucky.

Overall, the report says carbon dioxide emissions have declined 13 percent between 2008 and 2012. It also shows coal accounted for 39 percent of the power produced by the 100 largest U.S. energy companies in 2012, a five-percent reduction compared to the year before.

The report, Benchmarking Air Emissions, was produced by CERES; Bank of America; Entergy Corporation; Exelon; Public Service Electric and Gas Company; and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new proposed carbon-emissions rules for power plants on June 2. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late April that the EPA has the authority to regulate coal pollution that crosses state lines.