No More Hiding: EPA’s Carbon Emissions Database Goes Live

As promised by the EPA, the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions are now mapped for all to see, and it’s not a pretty sight.

The online emissions database displays 2010 GHG emissions data from more than 6,700 large facilities and suppliers. The data includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels.

Using the interactive site might actually be fun if the information itself wasn’t so disheartening.

For example, the Centralia Big Hanaford coal-fired power plant in Washington emitted 9.86 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e) in 2010. In Illinois, the Baldwin Energy Complex emitted 11.8 mmt of GHGs. The EPA identified 673 total emitters in Texas, including the ExxonMobil BT Site in Baytown (10.78 mmt) and the ExxonMobil Beaumont Refinery (5.76 mmt). EPA’s database shows that 237 mmt GHG emissions came from 124 power plants in Texas and 57 mmt from 29 refineries.

GHG data for direct emitters show that in 2010:

– Power plants were the largest stationary sources of direct emissions with 2,324 mmtCO2e, followed by petroleum refineries with emissions of 183 mmtCO2e.

– CO2 accounted for the largest share of direct GHG emissions—a whopping 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 of more than 7 mmtCO2e, including 96 power plants, two iron and steel mills and two refineries.

The site provides a wealth of information that communities can use to identify nearby sources of GHGs, help businesses compare and track emissions, and provide information to state and local governments.

EPA noted there was “strong collaboration and feedback” from industry, states and other organizations on this project.

The magnitude of the data starkly illustrates the scope of the GHG emissions in the U.S., but at least now we know what we thought and feared we knew all along: it’s really bad.

This information can also be viewed as a needed public service from the EPA, a transparent resource and tool for communities and businesses to find efficiencies and alternative fuel options that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a necessary step in finally getting a handle on GHGs.

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

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