Most US Greenhouse Gases Originate from Power Plants, Says EPA
January 12, 2012

Most US Greenhouse Gases Originate from Power Plants, Says EPA

Power plants are the biggest American producers of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, according to a study released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday.

According to Dina Cappiello of the Associated Press (AP), those power plants released 72% of all greenhouse gases reported to the EPA last year.

The data comes from the agency's comprehensive greenhouse gas or GHG Reporting Program, and which Cappiello refers to as "the first catalog of global warming pollution by facility."

It includes more than 6,700 of the largest industrial sources of the pollutants -- together accounting for 4/5 of all U.S. emissions -- the AP reported on November 11.

The data included in the 2010 GHG was reported directly from suppliers and the largest facilities in the U.S., and includes information from facilities in nine industry groups responsible for emitting large quantities of greenhouse gases and select fossil fuel suppliers, the EPA said in a press release.

"Thanks to strong collaboration and feedback from industry, states and other organizations, today we have a transparent, powerful data resource available to the public," Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement.

"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," she added.

According to the EPA's database, power plants were the largest stationary sources of direct greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 2,324 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e) into the atmosphere in 2010.

Petroleum refineries were in second place, with emissions of 183 mmtCO2e, the EPA said in their media advisory. Rounding out the list of polluters were chemicals, other industrial causes, landfills, metals, minerals, pulp and paper, and government and commercial sources, according to the GHG Reporting Program Data and Data Publication Tool.

"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," they added. "100 facilities each reported emissions over 7 mmtCO2e, including 96 power plants, two iron and steel mills and two refineries."

Cappiello reports that the largest polluter in the country in 2010 was the Scherer coal-fired power plant in Juliette, Georgia. That plant, which is owned by Southern Company, reported releasing 23 million metric tons into the atmosphere. Southern also owned the second-and third-largest U.S. polluters, the AP reported -- power plants in Bowen, Georgia and Quinton, Alabama.


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