The Toxic 20: Which State Do You Live In?

In 2009, coal and oil-fired power plants emitted 49% of industrial air pollution in the U.S. — representing the dominant source of air toxics in 28 states around the U.S. The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a report today on the top 20 states with toxic emissions coming from the electricity sector. The top five states are: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky and Maryland.

In one top-20 state, New Hampshire, power plants account for 96% of emissions.

So what companies account for the leading source of toxic air pollution in the U.S.? The top 10 polluting plants and energy companies are as follows:

Meanwhile, House Republicans are doing everything they can to fight EPA standards on air pollution. That includes Ed Whitfield, a representative from Kentucky who drafted an amendment to stop the EPA from implementing new air toxics rules. Whitfield lives in a state with the fourth largest emissions from the power plant sector. Fred Upton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has also pushed heavily for less-stringent regulations on power plants. Upton is from Michigan, a state with the seventh-highest industrial emissions from power plants.

Here’s a full list of the top 20 states with their emissions profiles:

Below are earlier comments from the old Facebook commenting system:

Joy Williams

These states don’t surprise me.

July 20 at 1:18pm

Susan Shaffer

Yeah, me either, but still, looking at them all together sure doesn’t say much for our country’s environmental direction!

July 20 at 2:15pm

Leigh Maupin

I am shocked KY is on there! I live here! We have some of the cleanest water, cleanest cities, and most beautiful state parks in the country! I am horrified that we take such stringent action on the ground, but are apparently unconcerned with our air quality!

July 20 at 3:06pm


How come spammers (Alex Luzuriaga) can post here but I can’t?

At least Southern Co. is trying to limit carbon by building the first two nuclear power plants built in the US in the past 20 years.
/Snark Off/

July 20 at 1:37pm

Joseph Romm

They can’t.

July 20 at 2:28pm

Robert Karaffa

Good point, catman. Southern is now arguing with PSC over cost overruns and who should pay for them. I buy electricity from Southern, and my bill has a section for $2.75 for “Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery” for those two plants being built at Vogtle, Ga. After Fukushima, and after Japan, Germany, France, Sweden have proposed to phase out nuclear, I don’t want to continue to pay for a plant that shouldn’t be built in the first place. Georgia has plenty of insolation and offshore wind that could easily contribute to the energy portfolio in place of this nuclear monstrosity. Easily!

July 20 at 2:51pm

Valerie Dotson-Clay

The fact that WV is on the list doesn’t surprise me at all and the fact that we made the Top Ten of that Twenty is even less surprising!

July 20 at 1:39pm

James J Pitcherella

Our air is 11 miles thin. Once you get over 1 mile up into the air it’s hard to breathe. Coal is pouring millions of pounds of toxins into that extremely thin layer around us. We need taxpayer financing for solar, wind and other renewable industries not taxpayer funding for near dead fossil fuel industries.

July 20 at 1:53pm

Brad Kennedy

The analogy I’ve heard/used is that the thickness of the earth’s atmosphere is comparable to a layer of paint on a basketball.

July 21 at 12:15am

Richard Brenne

Yay for the three West Coast states and Idaho, except our part in the outsourcing of our manufacturing to China and their coal plants together with the bunker fuels of cargo ships brings those pollutants to the West Coast.

July 20 at 2:45pm

Shantelle Acosta

WA ♥

July 20 at 2:57pm

Susan Shaffer

It’s beginning to look like the southern half of the country is far more polluted than the northing half. How long before it starts affection the infant mortality and longevity rates, I wonder?

July 20 at 3:12pm

Joy Williams

What surprised me is that LA wasn’t in that list.

July 20 at 3:12pm

Susan Shaffer

They are going by states and by pollution caused by electrical production, I think.

July 20 at 3:13pm

Mydnite Cynderella

At least Arkinsaw came in at 12%…..but that’s because we’ve got Nuclear plants built on fault lines.

July 20 at 5:04pm

Scott Williams

I’m surprised that colorado has a high percentage. I always thought the air was really clean there.

July 20 at 10:10pm

James Newberry

Ohio, Penn. and Kentucky are centered in coal burning country. This is a cause and effect result.

Also, the US Speaker of the House represents Ohio and across the Ohio River from him is Minority Leader of the Senate from Kentucky. This is another cause and effect of our nation’s corrupt politics and dysfunctional energy policies which are primarily, and have been historically, pro fossil and pro nuclear. Follow the dirty money (which also leads to Wall Street, Houston, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

Maybe the US will reduce our toxic and climate change emissions by going into financial default. Or is that is the GOP version of a clean energy plan?

July 20 at 11:36pm


Comments are closed.