Between 1990 and around 2000, there was a noticeable parallel increase in power generation and CO2 emissions from US power plants. However, a shift occurred in 2001, leading to a significant reduction in the rate of CO2 emissions.
In 1990, power plants generated 2.17 megawatt hours of energy while producing 1.95 metric tons of CO2 emissions, resulting in an emission rate of 0.90 metric tons of CO2 per megawatt hour. By 2021 these plants generated 2.59 megawatt hours of energy, yet emitted only 1.65 metric tons of CO2, indicating a reduced emission rate of 0.64 metric tons of CO2 per megawatt hour.
Annual USA electrical power plant information from 1990 to 2021 reported by the US Energy Information Administration (https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.php).
The chart above depicts the geographical distribution of TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) facilities in the US for the year 2021 that released carcinogenic chemicals into the environment. The cumulative release amounted to 214 million pounds, which is broken down by the amount each facility released by zip code.
While the majority of these facilities released less than 2 million pounds each, one location in Michigan's zip code 48111 released a staggering 33 million pounds (the chart indicates 38 million pounds due to the presence of other facilities within that same zip code). This particular zip code was singled out from our US map due to its significantly higher release quantity compared to other zip codes.
TRI facilities encompass manufacturing factories, mining facilities, and electrical power generation stations that satisfy specific EPA criteria (data from the Toxics Release Inventory Program).
The EPA monitors the handling of specific toxic chemicals within industries. This chart illustrates the waste generated during the production of chemicals with carcinogenic properties. In the year 2021, industrial facilities managed a total of 29.3 billion pounds of chemical waste, with 8.7 billion pounds being identified as carcinogenic substances.
Among these carcinogenic chemicals, an impressive 98% (equivalent to 8.5 billion pounds) underwent processes such as recycling, treatment, or energy recovery through combustion. This responsible management approach leaves a residual 2%, equivalent to 214 million pounds, which was released into the environment through various avenues like air, water, or land. (data from the Toxics Release Inventory Program).
During the period spanning from 2001 to 2021, there has been a increase of a little over two times in the total production of carcinogenic chemical waste, rising from 4.2 billion pounds to 8.7 billion pounds. Fortunately there has been a decline in the quantity of these chemicals released into the environment, decreasing from 348 million pounds in 2001 to 214 million pounds in 2021.
Furthermore, the proportion of these carcinogenic chemicals that undergo recycling has shown a positive trend, climbing from 59% in 2001 to 85% by 2021. (data from the Toxics Release Inventory Program).