Utah and five other states have seen C02 emissions plateau and even decline over recent years, according to a report by the Western Resource Advocates, but the factors affecting the pollution dilution may make a comeback soon without more prevention, the study's author warns.
Researcher for the nonprofit advocacy group, Western Resource Advocates says that the group’s analysis of C02 emissions from 1990 to 2010 shows a decline in CO2 emissions, according to information from the Energy Information Administration. Factors affecting the declines include the retirement of a number of coal-fired power plants including the Mojave Generating Station in Nevada, a major polluter that was mothballed for good in 2005. State regulations requiring certain amounts of utilities to be provided by renewable-energy sources and energy-efficiency programs helped thin the air, but one of the biggest factors in CO2 emissions’ decline was the poor economy.
“We had an effect from the recession on electricity consumption that occurred, and since 2007, there were less emissions from power plants,” Berry says, adding that the effect has ended and electricity consumption is now seeing so far a “modest recovery.”
Berry says WRA honed in on specific policies and changes that occurred since 2005, when the Mojave plant went down. Between then and 2005, Berry says, 5.3 million metric tons of emissions have not spewed into the air, 2.1 million metric tons were reduced from states’ pushing of energy efficiency programs and another 3.4 million metric tons were held back thanks to renewable-energy additions. “Those [reductions] add up to about 11 million metric tons,” Berry says.
He says a number of state policies such as Colorado’s Clean Air Clean Jobs Act will help ensure other aging coal-fired plants will likely retire for good in that state, and that Arizona also will not salvage a plant in its Four Corners region, either, which should help the mountain west region also.
While Utah’s efforts have been modest compared to other states, Berry says Utah’s energy-efficiency-conservation programs will continue to yield green results on the local air and budgets of the state economy here as in other states the report studied.
“Energy-efficiency programs have been growing very rapidly, and as long as states continue with those policies, we’ll see not only energy savings but reductions from power-plant emissions, as well,” Berry says.
You can view the full report at WRA’s website here.