2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Fossil fuels generate the most electricity: Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are used to generate about 65 percent of the electricity in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Pollution control can make power plants safer: Flue gas combustion modification can change oxygen content or temperature of combustion to reduce the amount of partially oxidized nitrogen compounds. On Twitter: Follow Christina Nunez and get more environment and energy coverage at NatGeoEnergy. Their plan comes with a big hitch for utilities. There may be multiple generators in a single plant that use one or more types of fuel. "This is another means of managing.". Of the major energy sources, natural gas represented a 33.8 percent share in 2016, and coal represented 30.4 percent. The Mercury and Air Toxic Standards that went into effect in 2011 aim to limit how much pollution coal-fired power plants can emit; after some delay, a final finding was released in 2016 supporting the benefits of reducing mercury and other toxins. An uncontrolled coal plant releases many harmful pollutants: These include about 114 pounds of lead, traces of uranium, and 720 tons of carbon monoxide. Experts say it prevented more deaths than it caused, and prevented more carbon dioxide equivalent emissions than it released. What if you could predict when pollution will likely be worse and adjust electricity sources accordingly? They released about 2.56 billion tons of pollutants that contribute to global warming. Nuclear power has caused the fewest deaths: Global Climate Change estimated that nuclear power, from 1971 to 2009, prevented more than 1.8 million deaths around the world. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge. By pairing data about Georgia's electricity generation with air quality models, they were able to provide "accurate and fast" forecasts that could have saved the state 23 lives and $176 million in health costs between 2004 and 2011. Strict emissions regulations have abated the pollution problem somewhat, but heavy metals, air/water pollution, water usage, and older power plants contribute to ongoing pollution issues. On some days, the mix produces hardly any of the fine particles that contribute to … Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. There are about 1,400 coal- and oil-fired electric generating units (EGUs) at 600 power plants … United States Environmental Protection Agency, Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector in 2012, Health and climate effects of carbon pollution, Learn About Carbon Pollution From Power Plants, Clean Power Plan Resources for Communities, Changes in weather and precipitation patterns, Changes in ecosystems, habitats and species diversity, Worsening smog (also called ground-level ozone pollution), Increasing the intensity of extreme events, like hurricanes, extreme precipitation and flooding, Increasing the range of ticks and mosquitoes, which can spread disease such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus.