by Dan Telvock - Environmental Reporter
The 650-foot smokestack at the Somerset coal-fired power plant in Niagara County billows plumes of smoke carrying greenhouse gases that can be seen on a clear day all the way across Lake Ontario in Toronto.
The amount - 3.8 million tons in 2011 - makes the coal plant the top greenhouse gas polluter in New York State. That's equivalent to the emissions from 712,893 cars annually.
Western New York has two other facilities that rank in the state's top 10 of greenhouse gas polluters: coal-fired power plants CR Huntley in the Town of Tonawanda and NRG Dunkirk in the City of Dunkirk.
It's no surprise that all 10 of the top greenhouse gas producers in New York are power plants, but the only coal-fired plants on the list are from this region. The other plants use oil and natural gas.
These coal plants are struggling to stay in business because high coal prices and low wholesale prices for electricity from the glut of natural gas has made it less economical to burn coal.