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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency find say power plant emissions continue to fall

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released the findings of its annual report into emissions from power plants, saying that they reflect the long-standing trend of decreasing emissions.

While electricity demand increased by 2% for these power plants in 2022 emissions fell from 2021 levels, primarily because of changes in the mix of fuels used in electricity generation. Data from 2022 showed a 6% decrease in coal generation and a 7% increase in natural gas generation from 2021.

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Compared to 2021, the 2022 data showed:

  • 4% decrease in nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions
  • 10% decrease in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions
  • 1% decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,
  • 3% decrease in mercury emissions.

During Ozone season (May 1 to September 30) NOemissions decreased by 10%. Notably, ozone season NOX emissions decreased by 21% in states covered by the current Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR – which requires certain states to reduce power plant emissions that contribute to ozone pollution in other states.)

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said: ‘Communities that live near power plants deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as everyone else. Our work is far from done, but the data prove we’re on the right path. We’ll continue to work with state, tribal and local leaders, in addition to major players in the private sector, to build on our progress and protect public health.

Since 1990, emissions of SO2  from power plants has fallen by 93% and NOX  by 87%.

Plants operating under the CSAPR  and the Acid Rain Program (ARP) together emitted:

  • 0.85 million tons of SO2 – down from 11.9 million tons in 1995
  • 0.75 million tons of NO x  – down from 5.85 in 1995

While complying with programs to reduce SO2, NOx, and mercury, power plants reduced their CO2  emissions by 22% between 1995 and 2022.

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