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Environmentalists call for cleaner power plants to reduce CO2 emissions

Calling it the elephant in the room, researchers behind the report claim power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution. By their estimation they account for 41 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution.

Eric Whalen, of Environment New York, says CO2 is what’s driving global warming.

“I think a lot of the focus has been on ways to reduce your own carbon footprint and ways to cut your own carbon pollution," Whalen said. "But the bottom line is if we really want to solve global warming pollution we need action to cut global warming pollution from the biggest sources- power plants."

The report is based on data from 2011, and two upstate power stations figure on the list.

Kintigh Generating Station in Somerset was on top, emitting almost 3.8 million mass tons of carbon dioxide. That’s not enough to make the nation’s top 100 though, when compared to the more than 21 million tons from the Scherer plant in Georgia.

The Dunkirk plant on Lake Erie, also made the state’s top five list, although half of the plant was mothballed in late 2012 and is now being considered for conversion to natural gas.

The emissions from the five facilities made up over 20 percent of the statewide total.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing reducing the regional CO2 emission cap from 165 million tons of CO2 down to 91 million tons. It would then decline an additional 2.5 percent annually through 2020.

The environmentalists push for a lowered carbon cap comes in line with the Obama administration’s own proposal to limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. This will be officially unveiled on September 20 by the EPA.