WIStv, July 14, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) - 6 of the nation's 10 largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions are coal-fired power plants in the heart of the South -- clustered from Georgia to Texas.
Yet year after year, when Congress tries to push utilities toward cleaner renewable energy, Southern lawmakers fight it.
Last month, Republican senators from the South accounted for about half of the opposition to failed legislation that would have required power companies to get 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Nationally, almost half the states have adopted their own renewable mandates, but only one, Texas, is in the South.
Southern lawmakers -- responding to heavy lobbying from local utilities -- argue that the region isn't conducive to solar or wind power like the sun-baked Southwest or the open plains of the West.
But many scientists say Southern states have plenty of alternative fuel potential.
Atlanta-based Southern Company and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corporation - produce about two-thirds of their power from coal, mostly burned in aging plants that have not yet been upgraded with new clean-air technologies.
Southern Company puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other US- utility.
Its Scherer plant near Macon has for several years been the nation's single largest source of the greenhouse gas, which most scientists believe contributes to global warming.
Southern Company, which reported 1.6 (b)billion dollars in 2006 profits, has been particularly aggressive in fighting reforms -- casting doubt on the existence of global warming even as other utilities acknowledge that it must be addressed.
But as calls for renewable energy grow, the companies may NOT be able to fend off new standards for long.