BY ON March 24, 2011

It is time to name names. We should know who the polluters are, and where they have built their worst plants. We have a great — shameful — list of the top 25 mercury emitting coal plants in the United States. In other words: THE WORST OFFENDERS. You’ll find the names of the owners of these coal plants in the fourth column from the left. (Click the chart to view the larger version.) And in exchange for all this poison–nearly a third of all mercury emissions from the electric sector? These worst offenders provide a mere 8% of our nation’s electricity. Not a good trade, by any measure.

Chart of top mercury emitting coal plants

I’m sorry to see that Texas — my old home state — has more than its fair share of bad guys: SEVEN of the worst 25 are in the eastern part of Texas. But the pain is spread around. You’ll find more of the most polluting plants in Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Citizens near these plants should be especially concerned — but air toxics disperse, and blow everyone’s way. This is a very useful tool.

Just because you don’t have one of the worst 25 offenders in your state, doesn’t mean you don’t have dirty power plants. There are others that didn’t make the cut but are still spewing lots of pollution. (You can see the smaller, but still dirty, plants on our interactive map.) And of course, dirty air doesn’t pay attention to state boundaries. Your state may be polluted by your neighbor’s coal plants.

TOPICS: Coal, Mercury Poisoning, Politics, Pollution