This story was edited July 13 to correct an error about Georgia Power's relationship to Plant Scherer.
Plant Scherer in Juliette is the largest single producer of greenhouse gases in the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency figures released Wednesday.
It’s not the first time the coal-fired power plant has earned that notoriety, but the new data was reported directly by power plants and other producers of the greenhouse gases.
In 2010, Plant Scherer released about 22.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. It also released the equivalent of about 178,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide through releases of nitrous oxide and methane, according to the EPA.
The so-called greenhouse gases are believed by most climate scientists to trap heat within the atmosphere, leading to global warming.
Georgia Power, which runs Plant Scherer, and a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club agreed Wednesday that little can be done to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions as long as Plant Scherer remains one of the largest coal-burning power plants in the United States.
“There have been attempts to reduce CO2 emissions from coal plant smokestacks that have been extremely expensive and ultimately unsuccessful,” said Jenna Garland, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club and its Beyond Coal Campaign.
Georgia Power spokesman Mark Williams said the company is studying ways to reduce CO2 emissions at several power plants.
Plant Scherer has also gotten extensive upgrades to reduce the output of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants, Williams said.
The Georgia Power and Sierra Club spokesmen disagreed on whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant.
“This is not pollution,” Williams said. “This is carbon dioxide. We breathe that out.”
Garland said that CO2 pollution “contributes to global climate change, which threatens public health. It should be considered a pollutant.”
Garland said carbon dioxide disperses, so people living near Plant Scherer don’t receive disproportionately more than other Georgians.
Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen near Cartersville and the James H. Miller Jr. power plant in Quinton, Ala., were the nation’s second- and third-largest producers of greenhouse gases, an Associated Press analysis showed.
They’re also among the most productive power plants, according to 2008 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Plant Scherer was the fifth-largest electrical plant in the country, and Plant Bowen was ranked No. 8.
Information from The Associated Press and Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.