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Glen Canyon Dam, a hydropower facility, on Lake Powell in Arizona.  Photo by Larry Gordon.


Electricity and the Environment





The generation of electric power produces more pollution than any other single industry in the United States. Recent (2002) data shows the U.S. electricity industry was responsible for:[1]

  • 63% of sulfur dioxide emissions that contribute to acid rain
  • 22% of NOx emissions that contribute to urban smog
  • 39% of carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change
  • 33% of mercury emissions that pose significant health risks

Among the other major environmental issues linked to electricity are water impacts, generation of wastes, and the disruption of land uses.

Electricity is also playing an increasingly important role in our personal lives and in the economy that feeds us. Electricity powered computer and communication systems are more and more important parts our lives and our economy. Because we are demanding more electricity service we must avoid increasing the damage to our environment by using electricity efficiently and by obtaining electricity from the cleanest sources available.

How do we meet the energy needs of these people as they lift themselves from poverty while addressing pressing environmental impacts linked to their inevitable increase in power consumption? Find out how consumer choice offers ways to obtain cleaner electricity supplies

Also, click below for additional information on the various generating technologies (coal, natural gas, wind, etc.) that produce electric power and on the specific environmental issues (global warming, acid rain, toxic mercury emissions, water quality, and others) used by the Power Scorecard to rate electricity products.

 












[1] Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States -2002. CERES, NRDC, & PSEG. April 2004.
(See http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/benchmarking/2002/benchmark2002_pt1.pdf)

 



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