Pennsylvania’s Dirty Dozen: Uncover the State’s Largest Climate Polluters

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PENNSYLVANIA — The statewide nonprofit group PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center released on Tuesday a new study, Pennsylvania’s Dirty Dozen, which ranks the largest climate polluters in Pennsylvania as well as for each region of the state.

“The old adage, ‘cheaper by the dozen’ doesn’t apply to Pennsylvania’s 12 largest global warming polluters,” said Faran Savitz, zero waste advocate with PennEnvironment. “The Dirty Dozen’s climate-changing emissions are costly to Pennsylvanians and our planet.

The twelve ‘Dirty Dozen’ facilities in Pennsylvania released nearly 46 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses in 2021, the equivalent of 18% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (the last year for which we have complete statistics).

“We have to deliver on the Pennsylvania Constitution’s promise that the people have a right to clean air and pure water,” said State Representative Abigail Salisbury (Allegheny).

The report also finds that:

  • The worst climate polluter in Pennsylvania in 2021 was the Keystone Generating Station, (Plumcreek Township, Armstrong County) whose greenhouse gas pollution that year was equivalent to 724,000 trips around the earth in an average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle
  • The Fairview Energy Center near Johnstown, a gas-powered plant, has CO2 emissions equivalent to burning 3 billion pounds of coal.
  • United Refining Co in Warren County has emissions equivalent to driving 140,000 average gasoline-powered passenger vehicles for a year.
  • Lackawanna Energy Center in Lackawanna County is the fourth largest emitter in the state despite only beginning operations in 2019.

“Not surprisingly, this pollution that we’re concerned about has profound impacts on the people who are breathing in these particulate matters and other toxic substances.” Said Dr. Walter Tsou with Physicians for Social Responsibility PA, “The fact our state, Pennsylvania, is actually through its greenhouse gas production contributing to global warming, is of great concern.”

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All but one of the Dirty Dozen facilities are power plants fueled by coal or gas. The report also finds that in 2020, industrial facilities and power plants were responsible for 60% of Pennsylvania’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“PennEnvironment’s report makes it clear that we still have unclean heavy industry in Pennsylvania. It’s good to call attention to that”, said State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler (Philadelphia). “The report also makes it clear that this is the moment to make big changes—that we must take advantage of the federal subsidies provided by the Inflation Reduction Act and quickly expand our renewable energy sector in Pennsylvania.”

The report also includes recommendations on how Pennsylvania can reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions, including:

  • Accelerating the transition to clean, renewable energy: Pennsylvania should commit to obtaining at least 30% of its electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030 on the way to powering the commonwealth with 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • Continue Pennsylvania’s commitment to and participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI):  In April 2022, Pennsylvania finalized a rule that formally allows the state to link with RGGI, a bipartisan market-based effort that includes 11 neighboring Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that has dramatically cut carbon pollution from power plants since 2009.

Brooke Petry of Moms Clean Air Force added, “Because Pennsylvania is the fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter in the nation, we must address our outsized contribution to climate change. Important programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, pathways to transition away from fossil fuels, and efforts at the state and federal level to limit health-harming and climate warming pollution will all have important roles to play as we work on solutions to protect families.”

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“We all care about the air we breathe. A move toward sustainable energy sources needs to be a collaborative effort between business, labor, and those focused on the environment,” said State Representative Lisa Borowski (Delaware). “No one group will do this alone and we don’t need to sacrifice one for another.”

In addition, PennEnvironment and its allies plan to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize the strongest possible standards to cut carbon emissions from power plants: The EPA will release a new draft rule in the coming weeks

The report can be found in full at:

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