EIA: Unscrubbed coal plants account for most SO2

January 4, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

As I’m catching up on all the news I missed being mostly unplugged for about two weeks, one thing that jumped out at my today was the above map, brought to us by the folks at DOE’s Energy Information Administration. The agency reports:

Coal-fired electric power plants make up the largest source of national sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) calls for a 53% reduction in SO2 emissions from the electric power sector by 2014. To meet this goal, plant owners can implement one of or a combination of three main strategies: use lower sulfur coal in their boilers, retire plants without emissions controls, or install emissions control equipment—primarily flue gas desulfurization (FGD) scrubbers. Plants with FGD equipment generated 58% of the total electricity generated from coal in 2010, while producing only 27% of total SO2 emissions.

Of course, then I saw this story from BNA:

A federal appeals court temporarily blocked an Environmental Protection Agency rule targeting power plant emissions that cross state lines, leaving an existing air pollution reduction program in place for at least several months (EME Homer City Generation L.P. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 11-1302, stay ordered 12/30/11).

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is expected to be on hold through at least the spring while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit weighs legal challenges to the rule. In the meantime, a predecessor program, the Clean Air Interstate Rule, will continue to regulate interstate transport of power plant emissions.

Here’s another chart from the EIA:


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