A new report evaluating air pollution trends at the nation”s 100 largest electric power producers shows that emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have fallen markedly in recent years, but carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased and will likely spike in coming years. The report, which focused on companies generating 88 percent of the nation”s electricity, found that overall emissions of SO2 and NOx fell by 44 percent and 36 percent, respectively, between 1990 and 2004. The drops, the report says, are largely the result of stricter pollution-control standards enacted in the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments.

Conversely, CO2 emissions rose 27 percent in the same 14-year period. And the report predicts a bigger increase in the years ahead due to an unprecedented surge of new U.S. coal-plant proposals that would emit substantially more CO2 than other sources generating the same amount of power. There are currently more than 130 new coal plants proposed across the U.S., and the Energy Information Administration (EIA, www.eia.doe.gov) projects a 66 percent increase in coal-based power production and a 43 percent increase in CO2 emissions by 2030. The EIA projection assumes no controls on CO2 emissions at the power plants.

The report, titled Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States 2004, was released yesterday by the Ceres (www.ceres.org) investor coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC, www.nrdc.org) and the Public Service Enterprise Group Inc (PSEG, www.pseg.com), one of the electric power generation companies included in the report.

The report analyzes 2004 data submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) and the Energy Information Administration by the nation”s 100 largest power companies that collectively operate nearly 2,000 power plants. The report focuses on four power plant pollutants — mercury, CO2, SO2 and NOx.

The study found that a small number of companies produce a relatively large amount of emissions, with three companies alone — American Electric Power, Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority — responsible for 24 percent of the industry”s SO2 emissions, 21 percent of the NOx emissions, 19 percent of the CO2 emissions, and 22 percent of the mercury emissions.

To download a copy of the report, visit www.ceres.org/pub/publication.php?pid=86.