Report: Xcel power plant is state’s top global warming polluter

by Julia Marshall

An Xcel Energy power plant was named Minnesota's top contributor to global warming pollution, according to a Sept. 10 report by the Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center.

The report, called “America’s Dirtiest Power Plants,” named Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County power plant as the state's top global warming polluter and the 21st most carbon-polluting power plant in the nation. The report also found Minnesota’s power plants are responsible for 31 percent of the state’s carbon emissions.

“The weather disturbances are going to be one of the key effects of global warming, and we’re already seeing the impacts of that, but we can expect to see even more increasingly severe and frequent storms,” said Michelle Hesterberg, a federal field associate for the center.

Lee Frelich, director of the University’s Center for Forest Ecology, said he was concerned about long-term climate changes in Minnesota as a result of the pollution. He said Minnesota’s forest and wildlife could be forced northward, because Minnesota's climate will become more similar to that of Kansas or Nebraska.

Hesterberg said the report’s conclusions are based on emissions data from fuel consumption figures reported to the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as estimates of the carbon content of each fuel source developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“This report really reveals that power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to carbon pollution, and acting on climate demands that we limit carbon pollution from the largest single source,” Hesterberg said.