Minnesota’s Top Polluters


Xcel Energy’s Metro Emissions Reduction Project which repowered Riverside (Minneapolis) and High Bridge (St. Paul) was a major contribution to the state’s reduced dependence on coal.

Despite lack of inaction by Congress and international treaties to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate disruption, progress is being made – slowly. The US EPA recently announced the first ever inventory of top greenhouse gas pollution emitters. Not surprisingly, coal power plants dominates the list. In Minnesota, Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power are the top two polluters respectively (Flint Hills Resources comes in third.) 

In 2008, Minnesota commissioned its own greenhouse gas emissions inventory as part of the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group’s work to outline the path for the state to achieve 80% greenhouse gas reductions by 2050. In recent years, the state has made some progress, but is lagging in achieving its goals. In fact, in 2011, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Commerce reported that the state needed to increase its efforts to achieve the 15% reductions by 2015 it set for itself. 

One silver lining was the role the transition to a clean energy economy is having in Minnesota. The reduced dependence on dirty coal for electricity between 2005-2008 accounted for a reduction of nearly 1.6 million tons – the same as taking over 284,000 cars off the road for a year. This was possible because of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard that has jumpstarted wind energy development in the state and the energy savings achieved by the state’s conservation improvement program.      

Minnesota’s Top 6 Greenhouse Gas Emitters
1. Xcel Energy’s Sherco Coal Power Plant (Becker) – 13.6 million tons
2. Minnesota Power’s Clay Boswell Coal Power Plant (Cohasset) – 6.7 million tons
3. Flint Hills Resources Oil Refinery (Rosemount) – 3.6 million tons
4. Xcel Energy’s Allen S. King Coal Power Plant (Oak Park Heights) – 3.5 million tons
5. Xcel Energy’s Black Dog Coal Power Plant (Burnsville) – 1.5 million tons*
6. Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor Coal Power Plant (Schroeder) – 1.5 million tons

* Xcel Energy has announced plans to stop burning coal at Black Dog which will eliminate this pollution.

You can see the top polluters in your community by using the EPA’s map.

Want to see how your carbon footprint compares to these behemoths? Check out the EPA’s individual emissions calculator.

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