Electric power generation was the driving force behind a 2.9% increase in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2007, the largest single-year increase since 1998, according to Environmental Protection Agency data analyzed by the Environmental Integrity Project.
Sprawl and the over-sized homes that grew to dominate the landscape in so many suburban and exurban communities is a major reason that electricity demand has increased, and why carbon pollution from power plants is up 11.7% since 1997. Simply, a five-bedroom home will cost more to heat and electrify than a three-bedroom home; a three-bedroom stand-alone home in the country will cost more than a three-bedroom apartment in a city.
Yes, the mortgage crisis, which was created by too many people buying more home than they could afford, is also a carbon crisis.
The states that saw the biggest increases in greenhouse gas emissions are Texas, Georgia, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia and North Carolina.
The environmental group cites this evidence as reason that new coal-fired power plants should not be built. Looking at why those plants are on the drawing board rising population and the exurban exodus is a more fundamental issue.
The group's other recommendations:
The nations oldest and dirtiest power plants need to be retired, and replaced with cleaner sources of energy. That will require accelerating the development of wind power and other renewable sources of energy.
Cutting greenhouse gases quickly by reducing the demand for electricity. Smarter building codes, and funding low-cost conservation efforts such as weatherization of low-income homes, purchase and installation of more efficient home and business appliances will reduce demand and yield greenhouse gas benefits.
I would add: Setting rules to rein in sprawl and cluster new building in and around existing cities and villages especially now that the mortgage crisis has given communities some breathing room to plan for the next real estate boom.
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