NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 4, 2004

Between 1998 and 2001, pollution in North America declined by 10 percent, according to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Specifically:

  • Chemical pollutants released into the air from all industries declined by 18 percent, while chemical pollutants from power plants declined 9 percent.
  • In 2001, 1 million of the 3.25 million tons of pollution released went to recycling operations, while 600,000 tons went to treatment, energy recovery and disposal facilities.
  • Total releases of Mercury decreased by 48 percent from 2000 to 2001.
  • Of the top 50 air polluters, 46 of them were coal-burning power plants.

Three states -- Texas, Ohio and Michigan -- accounted for 28 percent of North America's pollutants. Furthermore, the largest polluting industries are chemical manufacturers, smelter and steel mills, electric plants and waste management facilities, although some individual companies have made extensive progress in reducing their pollutants:

  • Reliant Energy in Pennsylvania showed the second-largest decrease in mercury output from 2000 to 2001, with a reported decline of 54.5 percent.
  • The Magnesium Corporation of America reported a reduction of 19.7 million kilograms of toxic air emissions, mainly chlorine.

Source: "Taking Stock 2001," North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, June 2004.


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