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EPA makes greenhouse gas data more transparent

New online mapping tools help public pinpoint local sources

A new interactive map is part of the EPA's greenhouse gas reporting program.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Getting a grip on greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming seems a daunting goal when you look at the big picture. But as with so many other challenging tasks, breaking things down to a manageable scale seems to help.

The EPA took a huge step in that direction this week by releasing a comprehensive greenhouse inventory and reporting tool that identifies specific sources and quantities, for example right down to the Summit County landfill, tabbed in this map as emitting 31,985 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The data is from the nation’s largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases, which are collectively responsible for billions of tons of climate-disrupting pollution.

The data is easily accessible to the public through the EPA’s greenhouse gas reporting program, breaking down information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of greenhouse gases, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels.

“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.”

“Americans have a right to know about the pollution in their air,” said Environmental Defense Fund Attorney Peter Zalzal.  “This greenhouse gas emissions data promotes transparency and provides a strong foundation for Americans to work together in deploying smart climate policies.”

EPA’s online data publication tool allows users to view and sort GHG data for calendar year 2010 from over 6,700 facilities in a variety of ways—including by facility, location, industrial sector, and the type of GHG emitted. 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.

According to an EPA press release, data for direct emitters show that in 2010:

•Power plants were the largest stationary sources of direct emissions with 2,324 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e), followed by petroleum refineries 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.

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

Mandated by the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 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. Most reporting entities submitted data for calendar year 2010. However, an additional 12 source categories will begin reporting their 2011 GHG data this year.

EPA’s website will provide climate pollution data for about 6,700 industrial facilities, based on 2010 annual pollution discharges. The facilities include cement, iron and steel producers; petroleum refiners; and pulp and paper manufacturers.
Visitors to the site can search for and sort emissions information by geographic area and industry sector, and can compare emissions among facilities. They can also share information using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
The program covers major industrial sources that emit 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or more per year – or, levels comparable to the emissions from 131 rail cars of coal consumed, or 58,000 barrels of oil consumed.
Churches, cattle, and other small sources are not covered.
The new pollution information will strengthen corporate governance and sustainability by providing rigorous, facility-based pollution data that tracks pollution levels for comparison with other facilities. It will likewise provide investors with transparent information, helping to drive investment decisions informed by the companies and facilities that are leading the way in reducing climate pollution and those that are lagging behind.
Since 1995, fossil-fuel fired power plants over 25 megawatts have reported carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act, providing a rigorous database of emissions data for the nation’s single largest source sector. This new data will build on that power plant reporting from more than a decade.
Emissions of the following climate-disrupting pollutants are included in the new data: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and other fluorinated gases.

Access EPA’s GHG Reporting Program Data and Data Publication Tool: http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgdata/

Information on the GHG Reporting Program: http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgrulemaking.html

Information on the U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sources and Sinks: http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

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2 Responses

  1. Right down to the landfill. . . . . which, the last time I inquired, came from humans. Multiply that for all the different landfills in the country, it’s no wonder the Congress wants to eliminate the E.P.A. That old saying; “out of sight, out of mind”, only in this case, no reporting, no publishing. Face it folks, it costs money, whether it’s doing the research/fact finding, or damage to the environment/the air we breath. The big question that everyone should have on their lips; “when are we going to get serious about this problem”?

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