Thursday, the Enviornmental Integrity Project released a report on power plant pollution, using the federal government's own emissions data. Texas has lots of plants high on the list. Texas' worst showing was for mercury emissions, which is released into the air when the plants burn coal. Mercury is a powerful nerve poison that builds up in fish and other parts of the enviornment. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children.
It turns out that five of the top ten plants with the most total mercury emissions are in Texas. In fact, Texas has the number one polluter - TXU's Martin Lake plant located south of Longview. This plant, and others in Texas with high mercury emissions, burn lignite coal, which has more mercury than coal from other regions.
Texas also has the number one plant in mercury emission rate, which is the amount of emissions per power generated. This was American Electric Power's Pirkey plant, which is also near Longview. This plant produced 219 pounds of mercury for each million megawatt-hour of electricity generated.
But mercury is not the only problem emission from Texas power plants. Five of the top fifty carbon dioxide polluters are in Texas. Carbon dioxide is believed to be one of the major causes of global warming. The number five polluter in this country is TXU's Martin Lake plant, and the number six is NRG Energy's Parish plant in Fort Bend county.
This study only included plants that are already operating. The 16 new coal-burning units that will be built in Texas in the next three to five years are not included. Governor Perry has put these plant on a "fast-track permit", which cuts the review period in half. All three of Perry's opponents in the governors race have criticized Perry's move, and all three have promised to crack down on pollution from power plants.
A TXU spokesman said that TXU would decrease pollution by 20%, even after eleven new power plants are completed near the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Tom Smith, Public Citizen's director in Texas, disagrees. He said TXU and others building coal-burning plants in Texas would dramatically increase emissions of greenhouse gases. He estimated the new plants would increase carbon dioxide emissions by 115 million tons per year. This would equal the emissions from 20 million cars.
Well, there you have it. Texas is already one of the worst polluters, and they're fixing to add 16 new coal-burning plants. I can't believe the companies want us to believe the pollution will go down after adding these plants. They must think we are complete idiots! That's like letting the fox bring some of his fox friends to guard the hen-house, and telling everyone the chickens are safer because there are more guards. More coal-burning plants means more pollution. It is as simple as that.