EPA Exposes Major Sources of Climate Pollution with Online Tool

For the first time, the biggest producers of carbon pollution are now exposed thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online tracking system. It’s no surprise power plants release a wealth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that threaten the environment. Now, EPA has the data to support those emission suspicions available to the public, identifying the biggest contributors to carbon pollution.

The online tool received GHG data from more than 6,700 entities reporting data from the 2010 calendar year – some did post data as recent as 2011. The 2010 GHG data includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels.

What the online tool discovered was that power plants were responsible for emission of 2,324 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (mmtCO2e) – a major contributor to climate change. Petroleum refineries followed with emissions of 183 mmtCO2e.

CO2 accounted for the largest share of direct GHG emissions with 95 percent, followed by methane with 4 percent, and nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases accounting for the remaining 1 percent. Within the reported data, 100 facilities each reported emissions over 7 mmtCO2e, including 96 power plants, two iron and steel mills and two refineries.

As of early November 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported preliminary climate change associated disaster costs exceeded $45 billion – lest we include the remaining two months to the total. The National Resources Defense Council addressed major health costs associated with continued climate change in March 2011:

  • Extreme Storms Affect Health and Infrastructure
  • Heat Waves Increase Death and Illness
  • Air Pollution Contributes to More Smog and Respiratory Illness
  • Pollen Allergies Proliferate
  • Mosquito- and Tick-Borne Infectious Diseases Spread More Widely
  • Drinking Water Becomes Increasingly Contaminated
  • Water and Food Supplies Threatened
  • Large Numbers of Environmental Refugees

The myriad of global health costs can continue if this tracking system now in effect doesn’t impact some change. If the severity of climate change worsens, it can affect not only natural resources, but families and communities.
It’s been a long time coming.

EPA launched the GHG Reporting Program in October 2009, requiring the reporting of GHG data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors, as well as suppliers of products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted.

 “Thanks to strong collaboration and feedback from industry, states and other organizations, today we have a transparent, powerful data resource available to the public,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The GHG Reporting Program data provides a critical tool for businesses and other innovators to find cost- and fuel-saving efficiencies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and foster technologies to protect public health and the environment.”

This information can be used by communities to identify nearby sources of GHGs, help businesses compare and track emissions, and provide information to state and local governments.

Access the EPA’s new reporting tool and view the results from the 2010 data collected here.


Posted by Christina Miralla on Jan 11, 2012

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