San Antonio’s Top Climate Polluters

Leer esta página en: Español

Click graphs above for Top US Climate Offenders, Top 10 Texas Climate Polluters, and the biggest Corpus Christi offenders. Data is from the US EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory for point-source/facility emissions. These numbers likely represent undercounts and do not take into account climate pollution “upstream” from the facilities due to production, transportation, and distribution. Properly accounted for, Deceleration estimates that the gas industry would have a larger footprint here.

San Antonio Emissions

While it’s taken a major recession and, now, a pandemic to significantly slow the United States’ annual climate emissions, one would think that making climate progress with climate polluters in Texas cities a snap, right? However, we learned with the release of San Antonio’s 2019 Greenhouse Gas Inventory that San Antonio only cut its emissions of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases by .2 percent between 2016 and 2019—in spite of shuttering our oldest, dirtiest coal plant, JT Deely. Preliminary data suggest reductions stirred further between 2019 and 2021, but still only slipped by less than two percent per year. The City’s commitment to more than 40 percent reductions by 20230 requires a heck of a lot more than that.

Preliminary data presented at a recent Council committee hearing (see full PDF).

In January, CPS Energy’s board approved a resolution (PDF) to convert one of Spruce’s units to run on gas in 2027 and close the other unit in 2028. However, the amount of actual reductions of greenhouse gases (if any) will hinge on the gas industry cleaning up its act. Currently leak rates in the Permian basin are so high that a conversion using Permian gas could actually increase Spruce’s total emissions after a coal-to-gas conversion. Certification schemes being pursued and promoted by industry, meanwhile, for low-carbon gas are far from transparent or trusted.

san antonio climate polluters: comparison

Emissions from San Antonio’s transportation sector as compared to those of the JK Spuce coal plant (2019 data).

[RELATED: San Antonio’s Top 15 Toxic Polluters]

The closure of “Dirty” JT Deely coal plant in 2018, responsible for an average of 4.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, was matched by an accompanying rise in industrial and residential gas reliance, inaction by some of our largest private polluters, and a rise in transportation emissions. Upstream climate pollution from this gas extraction and transport are not reflected in the EPA numbers.

[RELATED: Online Pollution Complaint Form]

Here are the top 15 climate polluters in greater San Antonio, based upon the US EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (2019 data, being updated). Click on each facility in the map below for location, a brief description, and a decade of facility-specific emissions data.

San Antonio’s Top Climate Polluters

  1. JK Spruce Coal Plant
  2. VH Braunig Gas Plant
  3. Rio Nogales Gas Plant
  4. Alamo San Antonio Cement Plant
  5. OW Sommers Gas Plant
  6. Capitol Cement Plant
  7. Covel Gardens Recycling and Disposal
  8. Tessman Road Landfill
  9. Nelson Gardens Landfill
  10. Leon Creek Gas Plants
  11. San Antonio Refinery, LLC
  12. San Martin Gas Plant
  13. Toyota Manufacturing
  14. Lackland AFB
  15. CPS Energy Natural Gas Distribution System

Click the slider icon at the very top left corner of the map for a quick overview of facilities.


The following will be adjusted after COSA’s Office of Sustainability finalizes their new 2021 inventory, likely later this month.

2019’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory (below) shows there has been a 125-percent growth in gas use by local industry over the last three years, as well as 10 percent growth in the commercial sector and 16 percent in residential: all of which is provided by CPS Energy.

How much is all that gas feeding into the overheating of the Earth? By not considering the upstream processes that bring gas into our homes and power plants–the fracking, flaring, compression, pipelines, LNG terminals, and leaks, leaks, and more methane leaks–our current accounting is vastly inadequate.

When properly accounted for, the true impact of our growing reliance on gas will almost certainly soar exponentially. As we wrote during the development of San Antonio’s climate plan:

“To comply with what has become standard reporting procedure for other other cities, this potent gas is being calculated as 28 times as powerful as CO2 instead of 84 times as potent, the difference between methane’s heat-trapping power when recorded over 100 years versus 20 years.”

A Global Perspective

Obviously, all of this needs to happen much, much faster. For a fun/depressing global perspective of where we’re at, we offer this interactive graphic from the World Resources Institute.


The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) began capturing data in 2010 and covers all industrial facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year.

Like What You’re Seeing? Become a patron for as little as $1 per month. Sign up for our newsletter (for nothing!). Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes or Sticher. Share this story with others.