The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released greenhouse gas emissions data from large facilities last week. This is the third report of its kind and details pollution emissions and trends by industrial sector, greenhouse gas, geographic region, and individual facility. Overall, the EPA reports a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
The data is obtained from the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, which collects information annually from over 8,000 facilities in large emitting industries including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills, and landfills.
“EPA is supporting President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by providing the high-quality data necessary to help guide common-sense solutions to address climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Putting this data in the hands of the public increases transparency, supports accountability, and unlocks innovation.”
The report, which provides data for 2012, shows that since the reporting began two years prior, emissions from power plants have decreased by 10 percent. From 2011 to 2012, emissions from power plants decreased by 6.3%. The report attributes this decrease to the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity. Power plants are the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately 40% of the total U.S. carbon pollution.
Overall, emissions went down by 4.5% from 2011 to 2012, with a 2.7% increase in the number of facilities reporting.
Staff lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund, Peter Zalzal, said the data show that “we’ve had some emissions decreases, which is a good thing, but there are still significant sources of pollution out there.” When speaking on continued leaks of methane and vented natural gas emission from oil and gas facilities, Zalzal said that “we can make tremendous progress in just applying common-sense solutions to our existing infrastructure”.