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Texas utility racing to build polluting coal-fired power plants

Texas utility racing to build polluting coal-fired power plants – WSJ

Texas utility racing to build polluting coal-fired power plants – WSJ
July 21, 2006

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today reported that TXU, a Dallas-based utility, is building 11 power plants that use pulverized coal.

The paper notes that pulverized coal “releases substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, the most worrisome of several heat-trapping gases widely blamed for global warming.” The 11 new plants would more than double the company’s carbon-dioxide emissions, from 55 million tons in 2004 to more 133 million tons in 2011.

The WSJ says TXU may be building the plants to take advantage of future restrictions on carbon-dioxide emissions. By building the plants, TXU could earn “allowances” based on its levels of carbon-dioxide emissions — the higher the emissions, the larger the pollution allowances. Critics say the system essentially “rewards” firms that produce higher emissions before regulations go into effect.

According to the WSJ, J. Wayne Leonard, chief executive officer of New Orleans-based utility Entergy Corp, criticizes the TXU project.

“Leonard… says the science behind global warming is persuasive and carbon-dioxide regulation is inevitable and necessary. He calls it “unacceptable” for power companies to build lots of new plants heedless of the environmental effect of carbon dioxide. Unless proof emerges that the scientific data are flawed, says Mr. Leonard, ‘you stop doing what you’re doing because you’re putting all mankind at risk.'”

Power plants produce 39% of U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions,80 percent of which comes from coal-fired power plants. Texas leads the United States in carbon dioxide emissions with 656 million metric tons in 2001. California is a distant second with 383 million metric tons.

This brief used quotes and information from “Burning Debate As Emission Restrictions Loom, Texas Utility Bets Big on Coal” which appeared in The Wall Street Journal on July 21, 2006. The article was written by Rebecca Smith.

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