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King Coal's crown is losing some luster

In the US, plans to add coal-fired power plants are curtailed, as environmental and political opposition builds.

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Because of its link to carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing global warming, coal sometimes seems like the Rodney Dangerfield of energy sources: It gets no respect.

In recent days, there's been a new report on the dirtiest power plants in the United States, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) has said he opposes new coal-fired power plants in his home state of Nevada, and an increasing number of proposed plants reportedly are either being canceled or delayed. A new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report, meanwhile, finds that "a significant reduction of carbon emissions is possible" in burning coal for power, but "only when a significant price is placed on CO2 emissions."

The report on dirty power plants comes from the Environmental Integrity Project, a research and advocacy group in Washington founded by the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory enforcement office. Among the report's findings:

"… the carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution linked to global warming from large, old, and inefficient electricity-generating facilities continues unchecked and could rise 34 percent by 2030...."

In its coverage of the report, the Environment News Service notes that 50 plants identified as the worst polluters – out of the 378 largest US power plants in the study – are scattered around the country.

"The 12 states with the heaviest concentrations of the dirtiest power plants, in terms of total tons of carbon dioxide emitted, are – Texas, which has five, including two of the top 10 dirtiest plants; Pennsylvania with four; Indiana with four, including two of the top 10 dirtiest plants; Alabama with three; Georgia with three, including two of the top three dirtiest plants; North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia have three apiece; while Wyoming, Florida, Kentucky and New Mexico each have two."

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