Missouri’s 10 largest GHG emitting industrial facilities reduced emissions by 5.6 MTCO2e between 2013 and 2015.
In early 2015, I reported on the 10 largest point source greenhouse gas emitters in Missouri. Nine out of 10 were coal burning electricity generating stations, and together Missouri’s big three public electric utilities (Ameren, Great Plains, and Associated Electrical Cooperative) accounted for 73% of all Missouri large source GHG emissions. The original post is here.
I thought that I would update the information and add a little more depth. What follows is a 3-post series on Missouri’s 10 largest single-source GHG emitters. The first post discusses the data in general, the second counts down the 10 facilities, and the third post discusses what is revealed and what is hidden in photographs of these facilities.
(Click on chart for larger view.)
Figure 1 shows emissions for the 10 largest point source GHG emitters in Missouri in 2015. They are the same facilities as in 2013, except that the Montrose Generating Station has dropped out of the top 10, and the Mississippi Lime Company Ste. Genevieve Plant has joined it. It’s not surprising that the list hasn’t changed much – major industrial plants like these aren’t built every day. Every emitter on the list reduced emissions between 2013 and 2015. As a group, emissions were 5,621,792 MTCO2e less in 2015 than in 2013. (MTCO2e = million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. An explanation of carbon dioxide equivalent can be found at Wikipedia.) As a percentage, the New Madrid Power Station reduced emissions the most (-21%), and the Hawthorn Plant was second (-15%). I don’t know the reason for the decreases.
These plants each represent hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, perhaps even more. They produce economic benefits through the jobs they provide and the products they produce. There is no way I can catalog all those benefits. No single statistic can do them justice, but the following may give some idea of their scale: data on the amount of electricity generated yearly is available for 7 of the 8 generating stations in the list. Summed, it totals to over 4 million megawatt hours (MWh). It is enough to provide electricity to almost twice as many homes as there are in Missouri. (U.S. Census Bureau) Take these power plants away, and that many homes go dark: no lights, no refrigerators, no heat, no air conditioning, no washing machines, no computers, no internet, no TV, and probably no phones. You get the picture: we simply couldn’t do without them.
At the same time, added together, these facilities emitted 58.6 million MTCO2e. GHG emissions cause about $36 of damage per MTCO2e (EPA 2015). Thus, the estimated damage from one year’s carbon emissions from these plants would be $2.11 billion. And they emit roughly that much CO2, causing that much damage, every year.
In addition, these plants release a host of other toxic compounds. For instance, the EPAs Toxic Release Inventory Explorer includes the following compounds among the Labadie Energy Center’s releases: arsenic compounds, barium compounds, chromium compounds, cobalt compounds, copper compounds, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, lead compounds, manganese compounds, mercury compounds, nickel compounds, polycyclic aromatic compounds, sulfuric acid, thallium compounds, vanadium compounds, and zinc compounds. (EPA 2011) These compounds are toxic, and they contribute to illness and premature death, which, in addition to being personal tragedies, also carry an economic burden of their own.
The point is this: these facilities create harm, but be careful about villainizing them. The products they produce are essential. We must find ways of living that take the heat out of climate change, but it is hard work, and the onus falls on us as much as it does on these industrial plants. As the saying goes, there’s nobody here but us chickens.
In the next post I will count down and profile each of the top 10 emitting facilities.
Ameren Missouri. 2016. Integrated Resource Plan. Viewed online 12/10/2016 at https://www.ameren.com/missouri/environment/renewables/ameren-missouri-irp.
Energy Information Administration. Frequently Asked Questions: How much electricity does an American home use? Accessed 10/20/2016 at https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3.
EPA. Facility Level Information on Greenhouse Gases Tool. http://ghgdata.epa.gov/ghgp/main.do. Data downloaded 10/20/2016.
EPA. 2015. EPA Fact Sheet: Social Cost of Carbon. Downloaded 12/10/2016 from https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/EPAactivities/social-cost-carbon.pdf.
EPA. 2015. Facility Profile Report: Ameren Missouri Labadie Energy Center. Retrieved online 12/10/2016 at https://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/release_fac_profile?TRI=63055LBDPWNO10L&year=2011&trilib=TRIQ1&FLD=&FLD=RELLBY&FLD=TSFDSP&OFFDISPD=&OTHDISPD=&ONDISPD=&OTHOFFD=.
U.S. Census Bureau. Quick Facts: Missouri. Viewed online 12/10/2016 at http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/29.
U.S. Geological Survey. 2006. Materials in Use in the U.S. Interstate Highways. Viewed online 12/10/2016 at https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3127/2006-3127.pdf.