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GHG Emissions Data from 2011 Released

EPA Updates Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data from Large Facilities

The EPA has posted the second year of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions data on its website, which provides public access to emissions data by sector, by greenhouse gas, and by geographic region such as county or state.

According to the agency, "greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly." Additionally, increases in ground-level ozone pollution has been linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

“Transparency ensures a better informed public, which leads to a better protected environment,” says Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “With this second data release, communities, businesses and others can track and compare facilities' greenhouse gas emissions and identify opportunities to cut pollution, minimize wasted energy, and save money.”

The 2011 data, collected through the congressionally mandated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program, includes information from facilities in 41 source categories that emit large quantities of greenhouse gasses. The 2011 data also contains new data collected from 12 additional source categories, including petroleum and natural gas systems and coal mines.

For facilities that are direct emitters of GHGs, the data show that in 2011:

  • Power plants remain the largest stationary source of GHG emissions, with 2,221 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e) roughly one-third of total U.S. emissions.
    • 2011 emissions from this source were approximately 4.6 percent below 2010 emissions, reflecting an ongoing increase in power generation from natural gas and renewable sources.
  • Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest sector, with emissions of 225 mmtCO2e in 2011, the first year of reporting for this group.
  • Refineries were the third-largest emitting source, with 182 mmtCO2e, a half of a percent increase over 2010.

The EPA now has two years of greenhouse gas data for 29 source categories.

Some industrial sectors, such as metals production and chemicals production, reported overall increases in emissions, while others, such as power plants, reported decreases. Overall emissions reported from these 29 sources were 3 percent lower in 2011 than in 2010. In the future the data collected through the program will provide the public with the opportunity to compare emissions and developing trends for all 41 industry types – by facility and sector.

This data is accessible through the Facility Level Information on Green House gases Tool (FLIGHT) – a web-based data publication tool. The EPA has also expanded accessibility of this data through the EPA’s online database EnviroFacts, which allows a user to search for information by zip code.

The data collection program is required by Congress in the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which requires facilities to report data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors, as well as suppliers of certain greenhouse gases, and products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted.

EPA’s GHG Reporting Program includes information from more than 8,000 sources and represents 85-90 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. This data only includes large facilities and does not include small sources, agriculture, or land use, which can also be significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

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