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Electric power plants burn fuels that can produce harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, which can pose human health and environmental risks. To assess the potential risks of meeting future electricity demand, congressional committees asked GAO to (1) report on the Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) national and regional projections of such emissions by 2020, and (2) determine how the projections would change using alternative assumptions about future economic growth and other factors that advisers in these fields recommended. GAO also assessed the potential effects of future electricity demand on water demand and supply.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency 1. To ensure that future forecasts of electricity generation and related environmental effects are as accurate and useful as possible, the Administrator of EIA should work with the Environmental Protection Agency and states to ensure that the agency incorporates the most current information on regulatory limits for certain emissions, such as nitrogen oxides, into modeling of its electricity and emissions projections.
Closed - Implemented
As of July 2006, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has responded to the recommendation by coordinating with EPA to ensure that EIA accurately characterizes federal and state environmental regulations in its modeling.

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