Fossil fuel-fired electric power plants constitute the largest source of air pollution in the U.S. Based on real data from DOE sources, here are some striking facts about power plant pollution.
The U.S. uses fossil fuels to generate more than 2/3 of its electricity. 51% is generated with coal, 15% is generated with natural gas, and 3% is generated with petroleum.
In 1999, electric power plants produced approximately 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, 12 million tons of sulfur dioxide, and 7 million tons of nitrogen oxides.
The average coal-fired power plant is only 1/3 efficient, meaning 2/3 of the energy in the fuel is wasted.
The average fossil fuel-fired power plant was built in 1964, long before the Clean Air Act began requiring pollution controls.
Of the largest 1000 fossil fuel-fired power plants in the U.S., 77% are not subject to pollution controls under the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirements.
On average, power plants that are subject to New Source Review requirements emit much less sulfur dioxide per megawatt-hour of energy produced.