By Nicholas Sheble
For the first time, comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) data reported directly from large facilities and suppliers across the U.S. are easily accessible to the public via the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GHG Reporting Program.
The 2010 GHG data released Wednesday includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs.
A greenhouse gas is a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation in the thermal infrared range. This process is the cause of global warming. GHGs include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.
Three coal-fired power plants owned by Southern Company led the emitter hit parade and each released more than 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010.
Two of the plants, Scherer and Bowen, are in Georgia. The third, James H. Miller Jr., is in Alabama.
The fourth-largest emitter was the Martin Lake, TX power plant of Energy Future Holdings Corporation subsidiary, Luminant.
Duke Energy Corp.’s largest plant, the Gibson plant in Indiana, came in fifth.
“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,” McCarthy said.
One can view and sort GHG data for calendar year 2010 from over 6,700 facilities by facility, location, industrial sector, and the type of GHG emitted. This information helps communities to identify nearby sources of GHGs, help businesses compare and track emissions, and provide information to state and local governments.
GHG 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.
• One hundred facilities each reported emissions over seven mmtCO2e, including 96 power plants, two iron and steel mills, and two refineries.
Click here to access EPA’s GHG Reporting Program Data and Data Publication Tool. On the right side of the page click on “View GHG data” and then play around with the interactive sorting functions to find facilities of interest.
Nicholas Sheble (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an engineering writer and technical editor in Raleigh, NC.