Report: Global Warming Solutions

Washington's Dirtiest Power Plants

Released by: Environment Washington Research and Policy Center & WashPIRG Foundation

Powering our economy is warming our planet

Electricity powers all aspects of our lives, but the way it is generated is accelerating climate change. There are still more than 3,400 fossil-fuel fired power plants operating in the United States today, and electricity production is Washington's second largest source of global warming pollution. However, a small number of dirty power plants have an outsized impact on our planet. That is why we are calling on EPA and Congress to take aggressive action to limit global warming pollution from power plants.

The top 10 dirtiest power plants in Washington have an outsized impact on our planet

Washington is home to 1 of the top 100 most polluting power plants in the U.S. The dirtiest power plants contribute a huge amount of planet-warming emissions relative to the electricity they generate. In 2020, Washington’s top 10 most climate-polluting plants were responsible for 95.9% of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the power sector despite only generating 16% of total electricity. The total emissions of Washington’s top 10 power plants are 10.8 million metric tons, which is equivalent to 2.3 million cars on the road for a year.

All 10 facilities are powered by fossil fuels: 1 primarily coal-fired plant and 9 primarily methane gas-fired plants. When fossil fuels are burned for electricity production, they release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, which speeds up global warming.

The average operating coal plant in America is 45 years old and many of these plants are also outdated and inefficient. To keep up with today’s energy demands and to meet our climate goals, it is beyond time to get power plant pollution under control.