Power Plant Emissions Down, But Still 30% of Total GHGs

coal power plant

by | Oct 5, 2016

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coal power plantPower plant emissions declined last year, but they are still one of the largest sources of US carbon pollution, according to EPA data released yesterday.

While power plant emissions dropped by 6.2 percent in 2015, compared to 2014 levels, nearly 1,500 of these facilities emitted about 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide last year. This represents about 30 percent of total US greenhouse gas pollution in 2015.

The agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, released annually, details emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. More than 8,000 large facilities reported their direct GHG emissions from 2015 to EPA.

As with power plants, the data suggests overall industrial emissions are dropping.

In 2015, reported emissions from large industrial sources, representing about half of all US GHG emissions, were 4.9 percent lower than 2014, and 8.2 percent lower than 2011.

The data also shows that petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest stationary source of emissions, reporting 231 million metric tons of GHG emissions. Reported emissions for 2015 were 1.6 percent lower than 2014, but 4.1 percent higher than 2011.

Additionally, reported emissions from other large sources in the industrial and waste sectors were a combined 852 million metric tons of GHG emissions in 2015, down 1.6 percent from 2014. Most sectors reported emissions reductions, with large declines in reported emissions from the iron and steel sector and the production of fluorinated chemicals.

The emissions data comes as the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit considers the legality of the Clean Power Plan, which would require existing coal-burning power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

Power companies have argued that while they support emissions reductions, they oppose the rule because it oversteps the authority given to the EPA under the Clean Air Act.

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