How Close do You Live to America’s Dirtiest Power Plants?

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The massive Plant Scherer near Juliette, Ga. puts 21.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, more than any other power plant in America. (AP Photo/Gene Blythe)
The massive Plant Scherer near Juliette, Ga. puts 21.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, more than any other power plant in America. (AP Photo/Gene Blythe)

Our energy comes from 6,000 power plants which together produce about 40 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change. But a handful of very large, very dirty plants are responsible for a disproportionate share of the problem.

A new report from two think tanks — the Frontier Group and the Environment America Research & Policy Center — takes a look at this small group of heavy polluters. The researchers found that the 50 dirtiest power plants in the U.S. are responsible for 30 percent of the energy industry’s CO2 emissions, and a full two percent of all emissions worldwide — these 50 plants were responsible for more climate change than all but six countries in the world.

The top 100 dirtiest plants in America produce 3.2 percent of the world’s carbon emissions — or roughly the same amount as all passenger vehicles in the U.S.

Ninety-eight of the top 100 plants burn coal — the other two use natural gas — and currently there aren’t any standardized limits on the amount of emissions these plants spew out. But that looks likely to change. In 2012, the EPA issued standards for new power plants, and in his June climate speech, Obama directed the agency to update and reissue those standards and to develop standards for already operating plants. For large power plants, the EPA proposed a restriction of 1,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity produced, a standard that natural gas power plants could meet, but that would require many coal plants to cut their emissions by half, and some by two-thirds.

To the coal industry’s chagrin, those rules are in the works now, with revised regulations for new power plants expected this week. Coal power plants will be regulated across the board in the same way that other potentially heavy polluters — e.g., landfills and sulfuric acid manufacturers — currently are, and many of the dirtiest plants in America will have to cut emissions significantly. Gas power plants may face even stricter regulations.

Do you live near one of these very heavy polluters? We mapped them — take a look. Mouse over each for more information, and use the tools on the top left of the map to zoom.

John Light blogs and works on multimedia projects for Moyers & Company. Before joining the Moyers team, he was a public radio producer. His work has been supported by grants from The Nation Institute Investigative Fund and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards, among others. A New Jersey native, John studied history and film at Oberlin College and holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. Follow John on Twitter @lighttweeting.
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  • Anonymous

    Looks as if the “red” states are fairly well covered.

  • geerue

    would be interesting to see a voter overlay, indeed.

  • Wendy Robertson

    No real surprise there.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, red states and probably close to minority/ lower socio-economic neighborhood. Notice that there are none in CA because they WON’T BUY DIRTY POWER. But on the Navajo reservation, no problem. But then what is an extra 15.9 million metric tons of carbon if it’s “not in my back yard.”

  • TeddyRooseveltRepublican

    An interesting article – but did anyone else notice the same thing I did?
    Most of these plants are in rural areas (yes, I know they ALL aren’t… I said most), and my guess is that they are fairly old. Perhaps if the federal government would kick some money to these plants like they have in urban areas to update and improve their emissions, we could solve this problem!
    But my guess is that the current administration will go after the rural areas rather than help them… less votes and they can “blame” these states.

  • Scott Pate

    Unfortunately, the Federal Gov’t has no money, keeps borrowing and can’t sign a budget.

  • TheManinTheCUBE

    stop spending on war ….then plenty of money for ALL the other things.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, the billions power companies make every single year should be subsidized by US taxpayers. We dont need that money for schools, or roads or affordable housing. That is satire if you did not get it from the lack of tone.

    Save the middle class and make the ones that profit from their businesses pay for their own damn upgrades.

    Power companies make BILLIONS a year off of us, they can afford to upgrade their own plants and should do it because it is the right thing to do.

  • Anonymous

    As more people buy electric vehicles and fuel them from our mountain tops the scenario will be overwhelming.

  • Ms. Kerr

    Thanks for this! Seems to be quite a few in our area but not where I live. The ones in Ohio are about 75 miles away but don’t think I do not realize they are there. Who can miss them dotting the Ohio River? Now they are wanting to put a gas line through KY. Everyone is up in arms about this, as they should be. Kentucky is a bit dirty with its coal but it is still beautiful although I see what the coal companies have done…Will our country eventually be unlivable? We have to buy bottled water now and I am sure the oxygen we breathe is loaded with carcinogens.
    We all need to become more involved. Go to rallies if you can. Let’s save our Earth. I have been talking about these issues since the 1970s. Seems like then we did make some headway through song, poetry, the arts…then along came Reagan. Everything I believed in and fought so hard for was promptly discarded. Even the text I was teaching from at the university changed. No more environmental issues or wealth redistribution. The wonderful essay, “What is Poverty?” replaced in the anthologies. It seems like now we are gaining momentum again. For Earth’s sake, let’s all get involved if we you haven’t already. Don’t let this heaven-sent opportunity escape. Time to wake up and smell the soot.
    It irritates me to know end that people believe science can FIX everything. They merely speculate about cause and consequences. They can’t make predictions! I know everyone thinks we need all this technology. I can see its good points but I also saw the toxic computer waste ghettoes in China, protected by armed guards. I saw the smeared, sad faces of children living in these dumps, drinking contaminated water, their eyes filled with a certain despair. ENOUGH!
    Thank you for you information and time,
    Sincerely,
    Jean-Ann Kerr

    Thank you and sincerely,
    Ms. Kerr

  • Anonymous

    No surprise that the blue states buy their energy (and refined oil) from red states.

  • David Stephen Ball-Romney

    Is this a map of “the red states”, the Bush/Romney supporters?

  • turtlegirl

    No, this is a coal fired power plant in Georgia, the most-polluting plant in the nation, according to it’s caption (underneath the photo).

  • Thom Prentice

    That is a nuke, the pi should be changed.

  • JonThomas

    As it should. People need to realize the REAL cost of using fossil fuels. Pollution has many, many hidden costs.

    Alternatives are closer to being cost competitive, or in many cases already economically feasible, than many realize when real costs are factored.

    One of the reason that profits are up, and wages are way down, is because a ‘false economy’ is allowed to exist.

    When real costs are put into consumer utility bills then demand and supplies can change. As long as the current conditions exist, profits will keep flowing.

  • G Mitchell
  • G Mitchell
  • Anonymous

    The most populated states do contribute more pollution simply because of the numbers of people concentrated there. This in no way equalizes the shock I saw in the states that are voluntarily contributing pollutants in excess of our standards. Deregulation by ignorance.

  • Anonymous

    Entergy in Arkansas would be very happy to build new cutting edge safe clean nuclear power plants, I’m pretty sure. The old nuclear plants are very dangerous and not build to last this long.

  • http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/ Anonymous

    I thought so too – that those were steam towers of a nuclear plant. But I checked it out on Google, and that’s the way the plant is structured. It is a high CO2-emission coal-burning plant. The towers are obviously for emission of steam that drives the turbines.
    There must be efficient scrubbers on the coal-fire emitting towers, because I don’t see any black smoke coming out. Nonetheless, there’s still CO2 emission even if there are no released particulates. If we hadn’t cut down so many trees, we might not be having all that much trouble with CO2.

  • Anonymous

    The future belongs to solar and wind energy. Too many problems with fossil fuels and nuclear. States need to mandate more renewable goals. (See “Gasland II” and the comments from profs from Stanford and Cornell. MIT is also working on solar storage batteries for individual households and neighborhoods.) Solutions are coming soon without all the hazards.

  • Mort

    Hmmm. Plant Shearer looks modern and up to date, but it burns coal. We don’t need the storage problems and other risks that come with nuclear power. A start? Let’s clean up the Hudson River and harness the tidal flow there.

  • Angela Catallo

    Notice how most of them are in the South where regulation is a bad word? Who cares if their populations suffer as long as their industries make more money!

  • Scott Pate

    I don’t think you understanding.. The Gov’t doesn’t even have money for war, SS, Obamacare, or anything. The only money we have is borrowed money…This country is going belly up. The FED is lying. The US is dying!! Already bankrupt!! Get ready for it..

  • TheManinTheCUBE

    I’m detecting a distinct case of Ron Paul/Alex Jones nuttiness here.

    The elites, the Owner Class, who owns & runs the United States are in GOOD shape ..in fact, they run the WHOLE DAMN WORLD.

    Don’t think so — ask Asaad of Syria.

  • Scott Pate

    Man, you are so brainwashed like most of the rest of
    Americans.. Go ahead and keep living that lie that everything is just fine.. We’ll
    just keep borrowing and printing money. Yeah, that’s a good plan.. How soon those who think they have it all (Americans)
    forget what happened the last time the Dow went as high as it is approaching
    now, only this time around, it’s going to hurt exponentially worse. WAKE UP! The
    dollar is falling from its place as the world’s reserve currency which means we
    will no longer be able to ”print” our deficit away.. The dollar as you know it
    will be so devalued it will make your head spin. It’s already shrinking and has
    been! (The dollar that is) What do you think inflation is? Don’t answer that
    because we are in store for the worst inflation this country has ever seen. Beyond the Great Depression and unfortunately,
    we will be bringing many other countries down with us. This is happening whether you believe it or
    not and I will tell you that you won’t be grinning so big in your ignorance
    then.. Call me what you will but when this financial institution collapses, I
    will still have a pot to piss in because I planned for the worst and didn’t
    just blindly ignore all the economic warning signs around me like the FED and
    the Obama administration want me to do. Man, all they are doing is crowd
    control and trying to prevent mass hysteria from the impending financial devastation.
    But, while trying to keep Americans calm
    they are protecting their own assets by dumping the dollar for foreign
    currencies and precious metals and investing in and shifting other assets
    abroad.. Don’t you think you should be doing the same? Oh, that’s right.. Everything is just fine..
    Hey, the new Fords are out! Maybe you should finance a new $70 truck! Invest
    into some depreciation; after all, the sun’s going to continue to shine bright
    on America indefinitely. Have fun napping in the sunshine.

  • TheManinTheCUBE

    Just as I thought, an Alex Jones/Glenn Beck Gold buyer…man up….you listen to both Jones & Beck….right ?

    thought so.

    Read a real book….Chomsky is a good start. Understanding Power

    Your analysis is vacuous and supported by Zero evidence, BUT…if…IF it were true, IF you were correct that the US is about to implode, THEN the whole world would be better off — the sooner the US Empire can be brought crashing down, the better for all of mankind, including Americans, who could then concentrate on building our own society rather than slaving for the Corporate Owner Class who are now Ruling the World.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=understanding%20power&sprefix=understanding+power%2Caps%2C165&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aunderstanding%20power&ajr=2

  • Scott Pate

    Dude, I think for myself.. As for those bozos… Please.. Zero evidence? Dude, it’s all around us! Open your eyes!!! I’m done here, no more time for you. You’ve been warned. Have a nice day!!

  • TheManinTheCUBE

    ZERO Evidence other than
    “The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling”

    Yeah….sure it is…there’s just ZERO EVIDENCE other than your “prophesy”.

    …….precious metals !!! …what a whackjob.

  • TheManinTheCUBE

    I’m curious…..what’s the last BOOK you read … you know, all the way through ?

    ..and, what year was that ?

  • TheManinTheCUBE

    I’m gonna help you out here friend.

    There has NEVER been a time in human history when the country with the strongest MILITARY was not also the RICHEST country in the World.

    THAT is what militaries ARE FOR. The acquisition of resources & wealth.

    Do you have any idea who is currently the strongest military on Earth ? — in fact the strongest military in human HISTORY ?

  • Pennington Geis

    I went to the dedication ceremony for the Jeffery Energy Center in Kansas — now the 12th dirtiest plant in the country. At the time, President Carter gave it a citation for being Clean for burning low-sulfur coal, saying this was a model for what the country should be doing. We were so proud.

    Has Jeffery started burning dirtier coal, or has the rest of the country caught up to it and surpassed it, leaving this one-time paragon now at the bottom of the pollution heap?

  • Anonymous

    I live 15 miles downwind from the Labadie (MO) plant and have copd. Friends who live closer have to wash their outdoor furniture before using it because of the toxic dust on it. The power company, Ameren, wants to build a 160 acre coal ash landfill next to the plant in the Missouri River floodplain. Environmental groups are fighting that. Google Labadie Environment Organization

  • Anonymous

    Keep in mind that the prevailing winds blow this pollution to the east. When smokestack requirements went into effect, the smokestacks had to be higher, which meant the pollution traveled farther from the plant. So those living on the west side of a power plant, or of a cluster of power plants, will have cleaner air than those on the eat side, in general.

  • John Champagne

    It’s not a bad thing to know where the largest emitters of carbon dioxide are located. But more important to public policy in a democratic society is the question of whether overall emissions are in excess of or are within limits that most people feel are acceptable. It is also worth noting how much a particular plant emits in relation to how much electricity it produces, but this question can be made a simple managerial question if public policy aims at controlling emissions by charging fees to polluters. Those plants that are LEAST efficient would be shut down because they are not profitable. The political process need not engage in such minutia.

    Why are pollution fees not mentioned as efficient and fair means of control?

    Natural law requires respect of PUBLIC property rights, too:
    http://gaiabrain.blogspot.com/2011/04/natural-law-requires-respect-of-public.html

  • Nativegrl59

    Because fees in failed states (the US fast approaching) do not reflect emission standards for neighboring countries. Emissions know no borders. You are also neglecting the fact that emission standards are developed by corrupt politicians and EPA administrators as well as state regulators. We cannot forget that emission toxins targeted are a very short list compared to the reality of toxins truly emitted as well as the neglected cumulative effects or fallout that pollutes waters, soils and everything else. Pollution fees are NOT efficient nor fair to the public. Natural law does not include anthropogenic synthesized toxins. They are not natural.

  • John Champagne

    Your first point makes the case for a global system of governance. Failed states (or failed systems of governance) portend failure for *any* system of control of environmental impacts.

    Your point about corruptibility of politicians and regulators is an argument for dispersing the decision to the people at large. We can require that the community of polluters limit their emissions to levels that random surveys indicate are within levels that most people feel are acceptable. In free societies, random surveys are something that any person or group could conduct. The public policy could be to take the average of all survey results. No single entity can ‘capture’ the process of measuring public opinion.

    There is no reason why we can’t assign fees to mercury or PCB emissions just as we might do for carbon dioxide or methane emissions. If the fees are high enough, then no industry would allow emissions because to do so would be unprofitable. Completely closed industrial processes can be designed. A fee paradigm (for putting pollution AND taking resources) is fair if fee proceeds are returned to the people at large. They would, in fact, represent the economic value of what we all own in common.

    Http://gaiabrain.blogspot.com

  • Wendy Palm

    Red states!!

  • Anonymous

    So do with less. If the problem as presented is more people, then more people will simply have to do with less. Where is it written that power availability must correspond equally with population increase? It isn’t. The lack of power, or electricity specifically, will correspond to other disappearing resources. Like water, for example. This may seem small, but Atlantans were fined for using tap water to irrigate their lawns. So it will go with power; rationing.

  • Anonymous

    Just like Prisons, Utilities are Public Corporations with Stockholders and they by law must make the most profits for their Stockholders, the environment and human rights be damned.

    I say they be damned!

  • Anonymous

    Though we all can make a difference, it is not just up to individuals. There is an enormous cost in health and future climate that will happen if government and industry does not become more involved.

  • Anonymous

    Not a one even close to me.

  • Anonymous

    And that is why environmental regulations are needed and – incidentally – why Libertarianism won’t work.

  • Anonymous

    That is why a carbon tax is needed. A tax per MMT of CO2-equivalent produced. This would favor the most efficient producers of energy.

  • Anonymous

    But every sperm is sacred! The Catholic Church won’t even officially sanction using a condom to prevent the spread of aids. You think they are going to endorse birth control to save the planet?

  • Anonymous

    Would like to see what is going on in Canada. With particular attention to the energy being used for the tar sands. Is this available?

  • Harry Leslie

    When you yanks like matt say “you guys” are ramping up the tar sands remember that the province of Alberta is all American in ideology and is NOT a part of Canada anymore.

    We outside of that filthy place lament the ‘American’ Prime Minister elected from that americanized state/province. He learned his economics from an American and his wholly tea party republican in his ideology.
    That neo economic and social ideology too, is spewed across our common border.

    “Luckily” for Toronto the wind takes Americanized Alberta pollution to areas north of us. Our air gets polluted and is carried on the wind from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan etc coal plants and fuel in vehicles and buildings.

  • JonThomas

    So, they really do fart in your general direction?

    (Sorry, just joking- for those of you who aren’t versed in Monty Python.)

    I know it’s a serious issue, but I couldn’t resist. :-)

  • JonThomas

    Utilities have often (always, as far as I know, but it could deffer from place to place I suppose) used bell curves for pricing.

  • Harry Leslie

    That they do, and now for something completely different…

  • Harry Leslie

    The Candu designed reactors from AECL are much safer. For example they are designed laying down so that coolant passively circulates in an emergency. The Japanese american made reactors now leaking were dependent on a power supply to circulate coolant. Candu: more expensive to build, cheaper in the long run, as usual

  • Greg Vezina

    The whole idea of CCS is a shell game designed to obfuscate the
    truth about clean-tech that has existed for fifty years that
    completely solves the problem, at less cost than simply emitting the
    CO2.

    No media organization in the USA will print anything about the
    Science behind the solution.

    I sent a two part reply to this article and am waiting to see if you
    publish it.

    Perhaps you would like a Pulitzer? If so, follow up on this story.
    The best place to look in the USA is the “NH3 Fuel Association”
    which is having their 10 annual conference this week.

    http://nh3fuelassociation.org

    Greg Vezina

    Chairman and CEO

    Hydrofuel Inc.

    Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

    gvezina@nh3fuel.com

    http://nh3fuel.com

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    “It is really safe to say, if you read the rule, that CCS is really
    effective as a tool to reduce emissions when it is designed with the
    facility itself,” McCarthy said in response to a question about
    whether EPA’s rules for existing power plants would also require
    CCS. “It is not seen, at least at this stage, as an add-on that
    could be used to put on an existing unconventional coal facility.”

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/epa-chief-offers-glimpse-into-climate-rules-for-existing-power-plants-20130923

    Below is the introduction to a November 2012 report, “The Dual-Fuel
    Strategy: An Energy Transition Plan”, published in the IEEE Journal
    which is attached. The report concludes 80% of all renewable energy
    (and 100% of petroleum energy) can be converted into ammonia and
    carbon based commodities, thereby capturing the CO2 and
    substantially reducing Nitrogen based emissions. What is does not do
    is study the costs of capturing verses venting the CO2 or the cost
    benefit or additional uses for the carbon itself, which our research
    concludes is cheaper than venting or burning it in any event without
    the need for carbon taxes or credits, and that the CO2 could be
    added to soil as char or other high carbon based fertilizer,
    reducing or eliminating the emissions from using ammonia and the
    runoff or related pollution. Indeed, the research show that by using
    deep placement of this fertilizer and high carbon carbon content
    nutrients instead of using ammonia, the net benefits include
    substantial increases in yields with substantial decreases in input
    costs, and the virtual elimination of the pollution in both the
    manufacture and use of it. I attached a summary of the economics of
    using the carbon vented in the manufacture of ammonia along with
    about 70% of it to make urea instead, and converting all the carbon
    into fertilizer and a higher net revenue that by simply venting it.
    In addition, we could simply convert the CO2 into char and add that
    to liquid urea for deep injection (more than a foot deep) because,
    surprisingly, the char is stable and does not migrate, except to
    feed the plant, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for liquid
    ammonia, which can then be diverted for use as a fuel or energy
    currency.

    Since NH3 has about 70% of the fertilizer market, if we doubled
    existing manufacturing capacity but added the urea production stage
    to it and appropriate technology to existing plants, we could supply
    enough urea and char based fertilizer to replace all the present NH3
    fertilizer demand and we would have a supply of NH3 left over about
    the size of the total present supply, which according to Professor
    Smil, would represent about 2.5% of the global hydrocarbon fuel
    (gasoline & diesel) supply. This could be done within ten years
    if there was a concerted effort. In the United States, application
    of N fertilizer, together with legume cultivation, tillage, and
    other cropping practices, contributes approximately 70% of total
    national N2O emissions (USEPA, 2011). Annually, over one third of US
    agricultural land is used for corn production (NASS, 2011), and this
    portion receives more than 40% of the total N fertilizer consumed
    nationally (ERS, 2011). Thus, mitigation of N oxide emissions from
    corn production systems has the potential to significantly affect
    total national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other measures of
    air quality. Anhydrous ammonia (AA) accounted for 35% of all N
    fertilizer consumed in 2008 in the United States, whereas urea
    accounted for 24% (ERS, 2011).

    A recent survey of corn producers in Minnesota indicated that 46% of
    farmers used AA and another 45% used urea as their primary N
    fertilizer source in the 2009 growing season (unpublished data).
    Despite the importance of these two fertilizer chemical sources,
    there have been relatively few direct side-by-side comparisons of
    their relative effects on N oxide emissions.

    Four studies in the United States (Breitenbeck and Bremner, 1986a;
    Thornton et al., 1996; Venterea et al., 2005, 2010) and one in
    Canada (Burton et al., 2008) have compared N2O emissions from AA and
    urea, and two of these studies also examined NO emissions (Thornton
    et al., 1996; Venterea et al., 2005). Although there have been a few
    studies examining effects of fertilizer placement depth on N2O
    emissions (e.g., Hosen et al., 2002; Drury et al., 2006; Liu et al.,
    2006), only one study has examined depth effects with AA as the
    fertilizer source (Breitenbeck and Bremner, 1986b). See “Broadcast
    Urea Reduces N2O but Increases NO Emissions Compared with
    Conventional and Shallow-Applied Anhydrous Ammonia in a
    Coarse-Textured Soil” and related documents: http://www.torna.do/s/Broadcast-urea-reduces-N2O-but-increases-NO-emissions-compared-with-conventional-and-shallow-applied-anhydrous-ammonia-in-a-coarse-textured-soil/
    According to the conclusions of a report in the Australian Journal
    of Soil Research, 2007, 45, 629–634, “Agronomic values of greenwaste
    biochar as a soil amendment”; Application of greenwaste biochar
    alone to a hardsetting soil did not result in significant increases
    in radish dry matter yield, even at the highest rate of application
    (100 t/ha). However, significantly yield increases additional to
    that due to N fertiliser were observed when biochar was applied
    together with the fertiliser, therefore highlighting the role of
    biochar in improving N fertiliser use efficiency. http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/SR07109.htm

    See also: Annals of Environmental Science / 2009, Vol 3, 217-225,
    ISSN 1939-2621 217, BIOMASS DERIVED, CARBON SEQUESTERING, DESIGNED
    FERTILIZERS. This work explores the hypothesis that functionalized
    biomass-derived chars (charcoal) can act as fertilizer
    delivering,carbon-sequestering soil amendments. http://iris.lib.neu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=aes

    A report from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, College of
    Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, entitled “Terra
    Preta: Soil Improvement and Carbon Sequestration” also concluded
    this option is viable and necessary. http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/research/terra%20preta/Flyer%20terra%20preta%20landuse%20strategy.pdf

    According to the conclusions of another recent report, “Energy
    Innovation From the Bottom Up”, A JOINT PROJECT OF CSPO AND CATF,
    Made Possible Through the Support of the National Commission on
    Energy Policy, a project of the Bipartisan Policy Center: A
    decarbonized energy system is a public good akin to national
    defense, individual and community health and safety, and protection
    from natural disasters. In providing such public goods, the U.S.
    government has often acted to spur technological innovation. The
    Korean War cemented U.S. commitment to a high-technology military.
    Since the 1960s, recognition that only government could safeguard
    the environment has underlain policies for both protection and
    remediation. If government treats energy-climate innovations as a
    public good, then major new avenues of public policy and investment
    open up, for example through purchasing and procurement, not just
    research and development. Energy-climate innovation policies must be
    tailored to particular technologies and suites of technologies.
    There are many proven policy tools available for stimulating
    innovation. Different technologies, at different stages of
    development, are likely to respond to different policy approaches.
    Yet government has relied heavily on R&D funding, while
    neglecting other policies that, as part of a portfolio, would foster
    innovation. For example, the Pentagon’s insistence on competition
    and non-proprietary technologies had powerful long-term effects on
    information technology, as did its support for academic programs in
    fields such as software engineering and materials science.

    http://archive.cspo.org/projects/eisbu/

    However, if you read the IEEE report alone, someone with little or
    knowledge about ammonia energy will clearly understand what has
    motivated me, and other supporters of using NH3 as an energy
    currency for over fifty years. I will send a message with the other
    scientific data on using the CO2 and reducing the nitrogen (N)
    pollution and emissions as well, but the correctness of the approach
    we have been preaching for decades is now undeniable. The evidence
    is so compelling that one could probably now get courts to order
    governments to legislate industry to make changes, and injunctions
    to shut down present practices until changes can be made.

    “The Dual-Fuel Strategy: An Energy Transition Plan” The transition
    from fossil to renewable and nuclear energy sources is enabled by
    developing liquid renewable fuels. Electric power and
    electrochemical energy conversion have central roles.

    Introduction: Many of the ideas presented here have a long history.

    As early as 1967 Leon Green, Jr., writing in Science magazine [1],
    formulated a concept for the large-scale use of ammonia as fuel. He
    observed: BThe long-term consequences of the greenhouse effect due
    to CO2 buildup in the atmosphere are of serious concern. . . . To
    remove the offending elements (carbon and sulfur) from the fuel
    prior to combustion is a much more efficient and less expensive
    procedure than trying to clean up the combustion products. . . .
    Outlined below is a concept for energy generation in which the
    fossil fuels are not burned directly but serve as raw materials for
    the synthesis of a clean fuel. . . This clean fuel is ammonia. . . .
    In commercial high-tonnage production of ammonia, natural gas is
    used as raw material for steam reforming to generate hydrogen for
    the synthesis reaction. In the course of this process sulfur is
    removed and recovered in elemental form, and CO2 is scrubbed from
    the stream and may be recovered for sale or use. Although current
    practice is to discharge this CO2 to the atmosphere, the point is
    that the CO2 is under control and can be condensed or caused to
    react so that the carbon is tied up in some useful form. . . .large
    amounts of CO2 are recovered per unit of ammonia produced, and the
    commercial value of this CO2 will have a major bearing on the
    economic attractiveness of the concept.

    Green’s concept, published nearly half a century ago, is stunning in
    its prescience. Why has it received so little attention? Over three
    decades ago the U.S. Department of Energy conducted a comprehensive
    study of liquefied gaseous fuels, including LNG, LPG, hydrogen, and
    ammonia. The latter alternatives were studied because of the extreme
    explosion hazard associated with LNG and LPG. Bomelberg and
    McNaughton coauthored the report on ammonia [2], published in 1980.
    After a careful comparison of hydrogen and ammonia, they wrote:

    It is not understandable why hydrogen as a future fuel is widely
    promoted, whereas ammonia is presently not considered at all. The
    most likely explanation appears to be that the potential use of
    ammonia as a substitute fuel is just too unknown, even within the
    technical community.

    In 2012, the potential use of ammonia as fuel remains just too
    unknown. Why is this? Perhaps it is because the well-known hazards
    of ammonia cause its use as fuel to be dismissed out-of-hand. There
    is also a widely held (but erroneous) notion that nitrogen-based
    fuels must necessarily produce excessive NOx in their exhaust. These
    misconceptions must be dispelled; one objective of the present essay
    is to do so. At the same time, the validity of these concerns must
    be acknowledged. Ammonia is a hazardous substance, and NOx is found
    in the exhaust of ammonia combustion processes. We argue that
    ammonia can nevertheless be safely used as fuel if it is not
    required to serve all purposes. We outline a plan, the dual-fuel
    strategy that supplements ammonia with a complementary substance,
    methanol, well known as an alternative fuel.

    Ammonia and methanol each has strength that compensates the other’s
    weakness: ammonia is carbon-free, but has high relative toxicity;2
    methanol has low relative toxicity, but contains carbon. Their use
    together yields a good (not perfect) solution for liquid renewable
    fuel, which we assert to be sine qua non for a post-petroleum global
    energy system.

    Further, we note that ammonia and methanol are but one example of
    such a dual-fuel pair. Other, better pairs might be found, and must
    be sought. What we reject is hydrogen. Hydrogen is disqualified
    because it is a gas. In our view, the use of hydrogen as an energy
    vector has been thoroughly explored over a period of half a century,
    and has failed to come to fruition. It is now time to move on.

    A purpose of this essay is to contribute to a discussion initiated
    in these Proceedings by Bossel [3] and continued by Abbott [4], [5].
    Bossel points out the deficiencies of the hydrogen economy, and
    advocates an electron economy in which batteries play a central role
    and fuel is unnecessary. Abbott insists that fuel is essential and
    that the hydrogen economy is the only realistic alternative to
    business as done now. We agree with Bossel that hydrogen is
    deficient, and with Abbott that renewable fuel is indispensible. We
    suggest that liquid fuels, ammonia and methanol, answer many of the
    objections raised by Bossel, while acknowledging Abbott’s
    observation that renewable fuel is an essential component of any
    future energy strategy.

    This essay is an unapologetically rhetorical work. Our purpose is to
    convince as many readers as possible to adopt the dual-fuel strategy
    and to adjust their research priorities accordingly. What the reader
    will find is a mixture of scientific fact, reports on demonstrated
    technology, speculation about what might be possible, and
    future-scenario narratives. This mixture is appropriate to the grand
    scope of our topic. The astute reader will have no difficulty
    identifying the character of any given statement or passage, and
    treating it accordingly. Further, we approach the problem at hand
    how best to put the global energy system on a sustainable course as
    one that cannot be compartmentalized. Issues of energy, environment,
    and economics are inextricably intertwined yet are traditionally
    classified in distinct intellectual categories. These three
    categories cannot be separated; all must be addressed
    simultaneously. Commercial and financial issues in particular are
    touched on in this essay. It is essential to do so.

    [1] L. Green, Jr., BEnergy needs versus environmental pollution: A
    reconciliation? Science, vol. 156, pp. 1448–1450, 1967.

    [2] H. J. Bomelberg and D. J. McNaughton, Ammonia as a fuel, U.S.
    Department of Energy, DOE/EV-0085, Report X in Liquefied Gaseous
    Fuels Safety and Environmental Control Assessment Program: Second
    Status Report, 1980, vol. 3.

    [3] U. Bossel, BDoes a hydrogen economy make sense?[ Proc. IEEE,
    vol. 94, pp. 1826–1837, 2006.

    [4] D. Abbott, BHydrogen without tears: Addressing the global energy
    crisis via a solar to hydrogen pathway,[ Proc. IEEE, vol. 97, pp.
    1931–1934, 2009.

    [5] D. Abbott, BKeeping the energy debate clean: How do we supply
    the world’s energy needs?[ Proc. IEEE, vol. 98, pp. 42–66, 2010.

  • Greg Vezina

    The Dual-Fuel Strategy. An Energy Transition Plan. William Ahlgren. Electrical Engineering Department. California Polytechnic State University.
    Download the pfd here: nh3fuel.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/2011-ahlgren.pdf‎

  • nellix9

    not all are red states. minnesota definitely is not, for example…

  • Anonymous

    Notice where the most liberal states stand?

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    They keep on saying Liberalism is communism; but the naive ideology today that’s least likely to work and most likely to kill millions is Libertarianism.

  • Russell Scott Day

    It is tempting to introduce legislation to have them all run by the French, considering so far, but dismantling is likely better long term with energy used to build hydro plants out in the ocean, wind up in the mountains and by the sea too, DC high voltage transmission lines. I’d hire some engineers.

  • Andrew

    Illinois? Minnesota? Ohio? Pennsylvania? Virginia?

  • Anonymous

    large electric utilities are dying in Europe. they failed to invest in alternative energy. the same thing is beginning in America. wind and solar are cheaper and more decentralized.

  • Wendy Palm

    Not a one in VA…..yes to West VA. Count the numbers and you’ll see that the red states=soot states. Not very smart people! Vote stupidly and are also trying to kill themselves by allowing pollution. Stooooopid.

  • Karen Marsh

    Puh-leaze don’t start the “red v. blue” dialog again; this is something we should be standing together on because cleaning it up is important to everyone! Self-righteous finger pointing, “us vs. them” & blaming serves no purpose whatsoever – and we already have enough of that in Congress, don’t you think?

    Plain & simple, power companies target states that are least likely to resist because economic need trumps environmentalism & pretty much everything else. If you have a state with high unemployment and few options, you will get power plants (& other kinds of “dirty” industries). Think about it. You can’t feed your kids because the company that supported your family for generations suddenly shut its doors & there’s nothing else. A big power company comes in & offers incentives & plenty of jobs. Are you going to get out & protest it or welcome them because you’ll be able to go to work again & regain your self respect & have a chance of getting your life back?

    Rather than blaming, let’s come up with creative solutions for ways to provide jobs cleaning them up, or supporting clean energy technologies that will replace the dirty ones!

  • sallyslinda

    Living in Connecticut, I am also aware of the role of prevailing winds. While we work to alleviate the problem we are affected by some of those plants on the list.

  • Anonymous

    Definitely the “red” response. Refusal to take any responsibility prior to negotiations. Sound familiar?

  • Andrew

    Irrelevant

    The location of coal burning plants is surely based a number of factors. Pointing fingers at a political party is not the issue.

    The EPA is not empowered to do its job because Large Coal Companies are using a lot of money to influence policy makers, lie to the public and propagate the myth of “clean coal” … they have no incentive to look for clean energy when they can spend that money on PR and lobbying.

    President Obama lobbied on clean energy “including clean coal” … don’t pretend this an issue that doesn’t span both sides of the aisle

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree. Shes making the both sides do it argument and ignores the fact that the GOP blocks any attempt to clean it up..

  • Andrew

    Glad to see that YOU are above partisan bickering.

    Now, when you get off your soapbox remember, the current administration bought the “clean coal” lie

    Surely the Republicans and anti-government Tea Party are more welcoming to coal companies. Knowing that does not advance a solution.

    The big lies … clean coal, safe fracking, tar sands, clean offshore drilling … these need to be exposed just as the pigs that tell them. No political party has the teeth for that.

  • Andrew

    Excellent point.

    One of the first things that Scotland wants to do when it become independent of Britain (and a significant motivating factor for that referendum) is to keep the profits from the wind turbines in the North Sea.

    Once there is a profit motive, things change.

  • Karen Marsh

    Thank you, Andrew! I appreciate your humor and reasonableness. My point, as you alone seem to understood, is that no one is “right” or “wrong” here – we need solutions, not finger-pointing!

    I agree that transparency and exposing the “big lies” – particularly the ones revolving around the “Really Big Issues” that affect all of us (environment, food supply, sustainability, etc. ) is very important. Those global issues are FAR more important than any of the small, and mostly insignificant ones our elected representatives have chosen to focus on.

    Unfortunately, I also believe that our “illustrious lawmakers” do not have any real intention of taking on any of the “really big issues” because of one or more of the following: they don’t have solutions, don’t understand the issues, feel they are too difficult to deal with, and/or don’t believe we (Americans) understand them any better than they do, or that we really care about them very much.

    If we DO care, and want things to be different, “We the People” need to step in and DO something instead of sitting by complacently, complaining, and waiting for “someone else” to do something. We need to shout less and listen more; educate ourselves; and engage in productive, respectful dialog that allows all views to be heard. Reaching that point will be hard, but it needs to happen, because only when we UNDERSTAND, can we choose the actions that need to be taken and work together toward the greater good. Of course, that’s supposedly why we HAVE elected officials, but they aren’t doing their jobs, and it’s high time that changes!

  • Rocky

    Edison was right for the Digital age , local power is better. There IS an Elegant solution, owning a small personal DC Micro Grid pays 13 -20% ROI every year and makes NO attempt to sell power to the Power Company. . http://www.ThePowerToChoose.US

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    On the other hand, showing what can be done, even on a personal level, is exemplified for all to learn from, if they choose. Four megawatts of clean, peaceful electricity from my yard last month.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    Meanwhile, using carbon assessments to fund solar energy “production” incentives would go a long way to eliminate the “peak power” demands while allowing solar to become a widespread income source with SRECs and peaceful power power source. One might ask why govt isn’t allowing solar carveouts in more states. It doesn’t use government funds.

  • Ken Carman

    I haven’t seen anyone mention the ties to the Ohio River. By far the heaviest concentration follows that barge carrying river from Pennsylvania to Missouri. Easy access to coal sources, and low cost transportation. Nothing to do with a solution, but still worth noting . . . and would factor in on what changes the future may hold. Odd that it doesn’t follow on down the Mississippi.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t live any where near anyone of them. lucky for me.

  • Karen Marsh

    That is awesome, RevPhil!

  • Karen Marsh

    My observation is that very often “undesirable things” have been put into depressed communities because the residents are less likely to object, and can be easily swayed by the argument that “any jobs” are better than none – and it doesn’t really matter what those jobs are, as long as they are jobs. My point is that it’s a lot easier to convince desperate and frightened people to do things that in the long run are to their detriment, by promising short-term fixes. For example, why do you think there are so many nuclear power plants in rural areas in the South and Midwest, but not in more affluent states?

  • what about my hometown

    First Pittsburgh had the pollution from coal, then the fracking problems polluting the ground water and now these power plants. Maybe they should just shut that state down.

  • Anonymous

    While absolute “dirtiness” is a good measure, dirtiness per volume of population served or KWH generated is a better measure.

  • c

    We will need environmentally minded people with business experience running for our electric cooperative boards to get us out of these coal contracts! And we’ll need members to vote for them!

  • Anonymous

    Actually this blue state gets the bulk of its power from from hydroelectric and windfarms. We also have our own refineries to supply gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Thanks for your concern.

  • Jurisrachel

    (Great response; thanks for that.)

  • JonThomas

    You are quite welcome.

  • Anonymous

    Kristina, Actually there is an indirect correlation, the states with the most coal plants are some of the poorer states with an abundance of blue collar laborers who are taken advantage of by the coal companies and by the politicians that keep the status quo. And if you check the map again you will notice that most of the coal plants are NOT in coastal states.

  • Anonymous

    So just accept the nightmare way for power?

  • Anonymous

    The government should have NASA working on alternative energy. They can do anything! Each home should have solar cells and one or more vertical wind turbines (do not kill birds). If one of those big, lazy windmills can generate the power for 200 homes, smaller, personal ones should be able to power 10. With enough feeding power into the grid, we could close the toasters.
    Remember 3 Mile Island? Well three days later, the radiation in Portland, ME was measured by UM Science Dept. to be dangerously high. Turns out, Maine Yankee had a worse accident and covered it up! Did not warn people (pregnant women and children) to stay indoors. That place has a encyclopedic collection of horror stories.
    ****
    For nuclear power you need 4 things:
    100% human perfection
    100% mechanical perfection
    100% security
    100% earth stability.

  • Anonymous

    Just do not assume that your neighborhood power plant is clean, just because the air is clear. Nuclear leaks are under-reported. Albert Einstein was apparently more brilliant than I knew.
    There are solutions, but the bribes from those who profit from power plants, stop meaningful legislation.

  • Anonymous

    Never! We need brilliant “public servants” in public office, not greedy, bribe-taking politicians who spend their days looking for political contributions.

  • Anonymous

    You do not have to be near one to be damaged by the fall out.

  • JimthePE

    The complete picture would also include the emissions produced to get the fuel to the plant, and power lost due to electrical resistence in the cables. Looking at efficiency as well as emissions may reveal some easy wins.

  • Leah

    I am a democrat and would rather be in a soot state than a chernobyl, three mile island, or Fukashima state. You get soot after a campfire or lighting a fire in the fireplace.

  • Leah

    I for one thing, do not like nuclear power. What if there was a terrorist attack, an accident, and what do you do with the waste.

  • Anonymous

    Go google the waste issue. New technology, Leah, has been terrible since Prometheus brought fire to humans and to this very day there are fatalities from this technology. We must be careful and demand rules, regulations with teeth for these technologies. We must live abundantly, hiring firemen to control the fire, educating people to use fire safely, etc. The technology of governance is also one in which we must progress. Thanks for your comment. Keep learning.

  • Norman Morris

    My mother lives very close to the Petersburg Generating Station, which is a major coal-fired power plant in Indiana, It is located on the White River near Petersburg in Pike County, Indiana. That monster has created a mess of everything, including all life in the White River is dead. Only the carp and algae remain. From her home you can see the plant belch out smoke 24-7. Occasionally the plant allows for acid rain to happen, which is ever so slowly killing the woodland around it. No one cares and everyone lays low and allows their lives to be ruined by the plant. Sad indeed. But then again and on the bright side, people have jobs and cheap electricity.

  • Ed Norris

    Why compare to nuclear? Wind is already cheaper than coal, and it has barely any negative side effects. If we want clean air, an environment capable of sustaining agriculture, drinking water, and economic stability, green energy is the obvious choice. We have to replace at least half of our coal fired electricicy capacity with wind and solar in the next ten to fifteen years, and worry about replacing the rest of it, and oil and gas, with either more of that, or thorium or fusion if they ever become available.

    We have a choice. We just need to make it known. We need a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend system in the next few years. Our economy depends on it. The well of cheap energy and of abundant resources without dire public health risks is running dry.

  • Blaine Whittle

    Here I am, sitting in Macon GA less than 20 miles downwind from Juliette GA’s Plant Scherer and yes, the air is B-A-D here! Not only that, as I write, the GA legislature in its wisdom has used the final minutes of this year’s session to reject a Bill allowing use of prescribed medical cannabinol by children with severe epilepsy (with draconian restrictions) but did find time to pass a gun law permitting carry rights within consenting churches, but not expanded to include campus carry (thank God!) If as expected, current criminal Gov Nathan (the Real) Deal wins a second term and former criminal Gov Sonny Perdue succeeds in capturing departing criminal Senator Saxby Chambliss’ seat, GA will earn the designation I saw today as the state with the most government corruption. A good example of which is how the Southern Company, owner of Plant Scherer, managed to secure legislation requiring all GA electric consumers be assessed an additional charge on their monthly bill to pay for ongoing construction of the first new US nuclear reactors in at least 20 years; which BTW is already significantly over budget! Long past time to leave!

  • Joan Harris

    As a Hoosier, I am appalled at the tactics REMC is using to scare people in pressuring the EPA into allowing coal fired plants some slack. Their monthly periodical tells us our electric bill could increase by 80%. This article gives me hope that the coal power plants will comply.

  • Mike Havenar

    Not surprising that they conglomerate in the dumbest states; statistically speaking the lowest in academic achievement.

  • RatatoskMalice

    Interesting…Lowest Academic Achievement remark from someone that apparently goes off rumors than actual factual data. You do realize that Nuclear Energy is the cleanest and most efficient source of energy given it’s output of power right?

  • RatatoskMalice

    Interesting…Lowest Academic Achievement remark from someone that apparently goes off rumors rather than actual factual data. You do realize that Nuclear Energy is the cleanest and most efficient source of energy given it’s output of power right? Well what about Solar Panels? They are the FUTURES!!!! Drrrrrrrr….. What a great looking question good sir. Let me explain. Back in 2007 there were approximately 430 Nuclear Reactors producing about 372 Gigawatts of power. While the Sun puts down about merely 1000 watts of power per square meter, and this only happens on a cloudless day at noontime (which in some places is rare and in reality is not going to happen every day). However, even the highest quality PV Cells which harness power in Solar Panels are only about 20% efficient, meaning that they will only make about 200 watts per square meter….again this is the MAXIMUM on a cloudless day at noon. Divide the total nuclear output by 200 to get the number of square meters of PV required. So for PV cells (Solar Panels) to replace Nuclear power we only need about 1,860,000,000 Square meters of PV Cells (solar paneling). USA is 9.8 million km^2….and again this is assuming that the solar panel cells are getting cloudless noonday sun 24 hours a day…which we know is not possible. So the actual number would be MUCH MUCH MUCH greater…. So if you think about the average nuclear power plants put out about 846 megawatts… 846000000/200 = 4230km^2 meaning in order to replace Nuclear power with Solar Panels (which are getting a magical 24 hours of noonday sun) we would need about enough Solar Panels to cover two Delawares. Final Conclusion – conclusion Solar Panel energy is cool but will never be able to replace nuclear at least in our lifetime. Again Nuclear is the cleanest most efficient energy source we have…unfortunately the human race can be a bunch of morons who end up messing things up..also Nuclear makes much better bombs than Solar Panels.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting stuff. It seems we Mericons vote our hearts. Meaning the emotional weight of arguments seems to sway us. So, or is it and, we have put a stop to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. A political pay off from the Dem. president to the Dem. Senate majority leader, and or because some native Americans see the space as ‘sacred ground’ and want (after what billions spent) hands off. Other repositories, New Mexico, Texas, are stopped. Old N.plants are over full of spent fuel and other contaminant waste. There may be better designs for N. plants out there but Americans seem unwilling to bite the bullet of cleaning up our messes !

  • Anonymous

    There appears to be a calculation error. 846 million/200 = 4230 thousand sq meters of solar panels. That is 4.23 sq km. Delaware is 6452 sq km. The area needed is .00065 of Delaware not twice the state’s size. About 1000 acres would do the job. California recently announced putting on line a 377 million watt solar powered plant.

  • Pete Wagner

    The world’s biggest polluters are actually vehicles and aircraft.

  • Anonymous

    Hemlock is one company making solar panels in SW Tennessee. Their new plant and subsequent limestone (need silica) mining nearby, consumed thousands of acres of rich farmland in Tennessee and Kentucky, not to mention the cement/concrete and steel production and fuel burnt in the construction process…

  • Anonymous

    That’s a good insight, and a valid one. But also realize that once a solar panel is built, it no longer consumes fossil fuels. It’s not like a truck or an airplane or an electrical appliance that way. I wouldn’t want people reading your post to think that, on the balance, solar energy contributes to the problem, because that would be misleading.

  • Mike Havenar

    Yes, except for the fact that there is no safe way to dispose of its deadly waste, and for the fact that Chernobyl and Fukashima were the most-poisonous events in human history, nuclear power is “very clean.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    What surprises me is that, of these, only PA and OH have SREC programs to convert carbon bids into solar energy credits. If more coal burning states used SRECs, they could move seamlessly and with positive economy, move away from the use of coal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    You nuke lovers should volunteer to store some of the waste in your home since you love it so much. Nuke energy is the most expensive of any and would not exist without governMINT loan subsidies and liability fencing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    Yah, you’ll never be negatively affected!!,…..?

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    Power plants din’t get along with flooding.

  • debraL

    Feeling you in Forsyth-hoping we can make change but not as hopeful as we once were

  • VVale

    And solar panels never kill anyone!

  • VVale

    your right. Solar panels don’t kill people!