Planned coal-power closings won’t cut CO2 much

Coal Plant - Photo by Wikimaster97Commons

The electric power industry’s plan to retire more than 10% of its coal-fired generators within a decade will do almost nothing to reduce the nation’s emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

The 140 slated retirements — mostly small, old generating units in the Midwest and South — account for only 4% of all CO2 emitted last year by U.S. power plants. In fact, not one ranks among the top 100 units for carbon emissions and only 12 are among the 475 units that comprise the top 10% of emitters, according to a review of 2013 federal data.

These findings show that cutting carbon emissions enough to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 30% national target by 2030 will probably require many more coal retirements and lock in the nation’s energy shift toward natural gas and renewable power.

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