Coal Use Drives US Industrial Emissions Up 0.6%

industrial plant emissions

by | Oct 1, 2014

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industrial plant emissionsEmissions from large industrial facilities were 20 million metric tons higher in 2013 than the prior year, or 0.6 percent, driven largely by an increase in coal use for power generation, according to the EPA’s fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data.

The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is the only program that collects facility-level greenhouse gas data from major industrial sources across the US, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills and landfills. The program also collects data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

More than 8,000 large-emitters reported direct greenhouse gas emissions to the program in 2013, representing about 50 percent of total US emissions. The data from these facilities show that in 2013:

  • Power plants remained the largest source of US greenhouse gas emissions, with more than 1,550 facilities emitting over 2 billion metric tons of CO2, roughly 32 percent of total US greenhouse gas pollution.  Power plant emissions have declined by 9.8 percent since 2010, but there was an uptick in emissions of 13 million metric tons in 2013 due to an increased use of coal.
  • Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest stationary source, reporting 224 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, a decrease of 1 percent from the previous year.
  • Reported methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems sector have decreased by 12 percent since 2011, with the largest reductions coming from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells, which have decreased by 73 percent during that period. The EPA expects to see further emission reductions as the agency’s 2012 standards for the oil and gas industry become fully implemented.
  • Refineries were the third largest stationary source, reporting 177 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, up 1.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Reported emissions from other large sources in the industrial and waste sectors increased by 7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution, up 1 percent from 2012.

Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA is taking steps to address carbon pollution from the power and transportation sectors, and to improve energy efficiency in businesses, factories and homes. Under the agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, carbon emissions from the power sector would decrease by 30 percent below 2005 levels.

Photo Credit: industrial plant emissions via Shutterstock

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