Missouri ranks among nation’s worst carbon dioxide polluters

Ameren's plant in Labadie, Mo. is the seventh highest producer of CO2 in the nation.
The MU Power Plant has an operating efficiency of 70 percent compared to traditional fossil fuel plants, which, on average, are 30 percent efficient. Missouri, however, was ranked as the nation's 10th largest producer of carbon dioxide pollution by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Missouri produces the tenth most carbon dioxide pollution in the nation, according to a recent study released by the Environmental Integrity Project.

CO2 emissions increased in Missouri between 2009 and 2010 from 75,774,756 tons to 83,279,658 tons. The biggest contributor to this pollution is Ameren's Labadie, Mo. power plant, which the EIP rated the seventh worst individual polluter in the country. The plant emitted 18,996,586 tons of CO2 in 2010.

Patricia Schuba, member of the Labadie Environmental Organization, blames this negative record on Missouri's lax environmental laws, which allow corporations to self-regulate their pollution.

"Missouri doesn't regulate as strictly as other states," Schuba said. "At the federal level, the EPA is trying to regulate things consistently across all states, but the big industries are lobbying hard and that's evident in the recent House vote to defund everything related to Subtitle C."

Subtitle C is a measure of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which would instate federal oversight of power plants to ensure the responsible disposal of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal for energy.

"There's a water discharge permit and permits on how the plant handles material on site, but there are other things they don't need a permit from the state for, like moving the waste off site-that's not tracked," Schuba said.

Schuba said although these regulations don't pertain to CO2 emissions, it is a testament to the inconsistent environmental regulation within the state of Missouri.

"I have a niece and nephew who live within two miles of the plant, and I hear about statistics that people within a five mile radius of a plant like this have 50 percent higher risk of cancer and 10-point decrease of IQ levels in children that live near these plants," Schuba said. "For me, it's real and tangible and I just cannot believe that we would allow a company to work in this way."

A statement released by Ameren stated the company is making strides toward clean energy, and is also looking at tapping into nuclear power as an energy source.

"We currently import wind energy from Iowa and have installed small scale solar to help us evaluate various solar technologies and educate our customers," Ameren's statement said. "While Ameren Missouri continues to work hard to reduce emissions from its power plants and meet customer demand in a cost effective manner we recognize the need to reduce our overall dependence upon coal as a generating resource."

Some of these environmentally-friendly energy methods are already utilized in the MU Power Plant in Columbia.

Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said in an e-mail that MU's power plant has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions since 2008 and emitted 246,221 tons of CO2 in 2010.

"MU's power plant received the 2010 EPA Energy Star Combined Heat and Power Award." Seville said. "MU's operating efficiency is more than 70 percent, compared to conventional fossil-fueled power plants, which are only about 30 percent efficient, according to the EPA."

Much of the plant's environmental success can be accredited to its combined heat and power method of generating energy, which uses 38 percent less fuel than typical systems. To reduce CO2 emissions even further, Seville said the students must make an effort to help by saving energy.

"Turning off your printer saves energy, and saving energy means less power must be made and ultimately fewer emissions are emitted," Seville said.

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