Power plant emissions decreased significantly in 2023

March 21, 2024
The agency attributes this reduction to changes in the mix of fossil fuel-fired generation and improved efficiency.

Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that emissions from power plants in the lower 48 states decreased significantly in 2023. The agency attributes this reduction to changes in the mix of fossil fuel-fired generation and improved efficiency. In 2023, there was an 18% decrease in coal generation and an 8% increase in natural gas generation when compared to 2022 statistics. In addition, emission rates at coal facilities for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides improved by 7% and 3%, respectively. These changes were primarily caused by improved controls, whether facilities were operating existing controls more effectively or increasing utilization of more highly controlled units. The 2023 data also depicted a 15% decrease in NOX emissions, a 24% decrease in SO2 emissions, a 7% decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a 17% decrease in mercury emissions when compared to data from 2022.

In a recent quote, Joseph Goffman, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said, “This snapshot of progress over the past year shows we are moving in the right direction, but more progress is needed. President Biden is committed to building a clean energy future, and EPA will continue to work with state, Tribal and local leaders, in addition to major players in the power sector, to build on our progress and protect public health.”

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