Area power plant ranked 12th in nation for CO2 emissions

By Kristina Jackson

A recent report ranked Jeffrey Energy Center in St. Marys as the 12th most polluting plant in the nation based on carbon dioxide emissions.

In light of reports like this and pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency, Jeffrey and many other power plants are searching for ways to decrease these emissions, officials said.

“There’s always something we’re maintaining or updating to make it better,” said Leonard Allen, a communications representative at Westar Energy, which owns Jeffrey Energy Center.

A report from Environment America Research and Policy Center compiled a list of the 100 most polluting plants in the U.S. based on carbon dioxide emissions, using data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA. Jeffrey Energy Center came in 12th, while another coal plant, Scherer Power Plant in Georgia, ranked first.

The EPA has been conducting public forums, including one in Lenexa, to hear comments on ways to curb carbon pollution. President Barack Obama has been a proponent of regulations to reduce pollution nationwide.

Allen said the company has taken some steps to reduce overall emissions in the past and is willing to cooperate with EPA regulations in the future.

“Westar and other energy producers in the country have a seat at the table working with the EPA to find a balance with any new regulations,” Allen said.

The foremost of the projects to reduce emissions was the installation of scrubbers at the plant, he said, which was completed in 2009. The scrubbers installed in the smokestacks reduced sulfur dioxide, mercury and particle emissions, according to Westar’s website.

Westar is also in the middle of another major project to install more scrubbers at the plant, Allen said.

The scrubbers do not, however, do much to address carbon dioxide emissions, but Allen said Westar is willing to work with the EPA to conform to regulations.

“We’re working with the EPA and our other regulators and always looking for a good solution to meet requirements,” he said. “And we will do everything we can to cooperate.”

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