U.S. EPA Releases First Ever Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data To The Public

2012 is already an historic year for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States public alike.  In early January, EPA released the comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) data, reported to them directly by large facilities, to the public.

EPA began collecting GHG data in response to the fiscal year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2764; Public Law 110–161), in which the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule (74 FR 56260) was issued.  The rule requires reporting of GHG data and other relevant information from numerous industrial sectors  including electricity generators, pulp and paper manufacturing, zinc production, and suppliers of natural gas and natural gas liquids to name a few.

EPA developed an online data publication tool that allows users to view GHG data in a variety of ways, including by location, facility, industrial sector, or state.  The default view allows the user to explore data from direct emitters such as power plants, refineries, and other large direct emissions sources. The development of this online system is part of EPA’s broader goal of providing U.S. citizens with critical public health information.  EPA plans to continually update the database in an effort to provide the most accurate data.

EPA collected data from over 6,700 facilities that directly emitted or supplied products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted.  The data showed that power plants represented the largest stationary source of direct emissions with 2,324 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e), followed by petroleum refineries with emissions of 183 mmtCO2e.

The breakdown of individual pollutants showed carbon dioxide (CO2) accounting for the largest share of direct GHG emissions with 95 percent, followed by methane (CH4) with 4 percent, and nitrous oxide (NOx) and fluorinated gases accounting for the remaining 1 percent.  There will be an additional 12 source categories that will be reporting their 2011 GHG emissions data to EPA in 2012.  For a complete list of those source categories, visit EPA’s website on GHGs here.

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