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US megadrought has led to more air pollution from power plants

Home » Blog » US megadrought has led to more air pollution from power plants


The ongoing drought in the western US depleted reservoirs and reduced hydropower generation. Fossil fuel power plants filled the gap but that has led to increased air pollution

Environment



3 February 2023

Three smokestacks from a coal-burning power plant send up plumes of white smoke into a blue sky

Power plants that burn coal and other fossil fuels generate more pollutants during drought conditions.

Shutterstock/James Marvin Phelps

Record low water at reservoirs across the western US – a stark sign of the region’s megadrought-driven water crisis –  means less electricity can be generated at dams, which has led to more greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from fossil fuel power plants being used to fill the hydropower gap.

On average, about 26 per cent of the electricity for the western US comes from hydropower and 50 per cent comes from fossil fuel plants …



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