EPA Reveals Biggest GHG Emitters

by | Jan 12, 2012

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The top three GHG emitters in the country are all power plants owned by Southern Company, according to data just released by the EPA.

The agency yesterday launched an online tool (pictured) that allows users to view and sort GHG data by facility, location, industrial sector, and the type of GHG emitted. The EPA says is the first time that comprehensive GHG data from large facilities and suppliers across the country has been made easily accessible to the public.

The data revealed that the country’s biggest emitter is the Scherer power plant in Juliette, Ga., with nearly 23 million MT CO2e emitted in 2010, followed by the Bowen plant in Cartersville, Ga., with over 21 million MT CO2e and the James H. Miller Jr. plant in Quinton, Ala., with 20.7 million MT CO2e. The New York Times identified all these plants as belonging to utility Southern Company.

The data set for 2010 includes reports from over 6,700 entries on GHGs including carbon dioxide, ?methane, nitrous oxide, and several types of ?fluorinated industrial gases.

The data shows that power plants were the largest stationary source of direct U.S. GHG emissions with 2,324 million metric tons of CO2e, followed by refineries with 183 million metric tons of CO2e. Other entities represented include chemical plants, landfills, metal and mineral operations, pulp and paper plants and other industrial sites, as well as government and commercial sites.

One hundred facilities each reported emissions over 7 million metric tons of CO2e. These included 96 power plants, two iron and steel mills and two refineries.

Texas has far and away the highest number of facilities, with 673, followed by California with 456. Reporting facilities in the Lone Star state also had the highest total reported emissions with 294 MMT CO2e, followed by Pennsylvania with 129 MMT CO2e.

CO2 emissions accounted for the largest share of direct emissions with 95 percent, followed by methane with 4 percent. Nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases made up the remaining 1 percent.

The 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 from suppliers of products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted. Most reporting entities submitted data for calendar year 2010. Another 12 source categories will begin reporting their 2011 GHG data this year.

The agency says that the data collected will help guide policy decisions and the development of possible emissions reductions programs in the future. It also says the data will help industries and businesses find ways to be more efficient and save money.

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