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Gallery: Chicago Area's Biggest Climate Chokers

By JoshMogerman in News on Nov 3, 2013 4:30PM

It boggles the mind how the climate change “debate” continues even as we see crazy stuff completely in-line with the scientists’ predictions popping up in our back yards. For instance: the Chicago River flowing backwards (re-reversed?) twice this year due to historic low Lake levels and insanely violent rainstorms!

Nevertheless, on Friday, Nov. 8, folks concerned about climate change (and, sadly, probably plenty denying it) will descend on the EPA’s offices on Jackson Blvd. for a “public listening session” to give input on upcoming carbon pollution regulations for existing power plants.

If you have something to say, they want to hear it—but you probably need to make an appointment in advance.

In the run-up to that hearing, we thought it was time to revisit the facilities making the biggest climate messes in the area.

According to new EPA data released last month, Illinois farts out the 7th highest carbon plume in the nation.

The top 10 emitters list in Illinois is dominated by downstate coal plants, with Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur representing the only industrial facility. (It should be noted, though, that the company has an active carbon capture and sequestration project underway, burying some of their carbon dioxide in the ground).

Midwest Generation’s Will County and Waukegan coal plants are joined by three area refineries (Exxon’s refinery in Joliet; Citgo’s recently torched facility in Lemont; and Marathon’s Robinson refinery) as Chicagoland’s only representatives in the top 25 Illinois carbon polluters.

The 2012 data still puts the now-shuttered Fisk and Crawford coal plants as Cook County’s biggest emitters.

But, with the departure of Chicago’s coal plants, Ingredion Incorporated’s Argo plant in Bedford Park will now stand as Cook County’s biggest climate choker.

The facility, which can be seen from I-55 near Brookfield Zoo, emits 851,000 metric tons of carbon pollution, which is more than the next 4 highest carbon emitters in the county combined. (That 's People’s Gas in Chicago; the Land and Lakes Company landfill in Dolton, ArcelorMittal’s Riverdale steel mill; University of Illinois-Chicago’s powerplant; and the Horsehead Corporation facility on Chicago’s southeast side).

For context, Illinois’ highest emitter is the Baldwin Energy Complex downstate, which spews 12.5 million metric tons (up from 11.8 last year). It stands as the 20th biggest carbon cloud in the country, though neighboring Indiana has two facilities that are among the nation’s top-5 emitters (both release more than 16 million metric tons).