EPA Greenhouse Gas Data Reveals Waste Industry Improvement

Date: February 5, 2013

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

EPA's most recent inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 reveals that those attributable to the waste industry grew by a modest 3 percent last year. However, those figures are misleading since figures for 2010 did not include industrial waste landfills and waste water treatment plants which together comprised 12 percent of total waste emissions in 2011. Waste industry emissions in 2011 were 103 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, 79 percent of which was from municipal landfills, 9 percent from waste combustion, 8 percent from industrial landfills and 4 percent from wastewater treatment. Waste industry emissions pale in comparison with some other sectors. At the top of the list are power plants which emitted 2,221 million metric tons in 2011, followed by petroleum and natural gas systems at 225 million tons and refineries at 182 million tons.

February 5, 2013

EPA Updates Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data from Large Facilities

WASHINGTON - Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted the second year of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions data on its website, which provides public access to emissions data by sector, by greenhouse gas, and by geographic region such as county or state.

Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses; as well as other threats to the health and welfare of Americans.

"Transparency ensures a better informed public, which leads to a better protected environment," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "With this second data release, communities, businesses and others can track and compare facilities' greenhouse gas emissions and identify opportunities to cut pollution, minimize wasted energy, and save money."

The 2011 data, collected through the congressionally mandated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program, includes information from facilities in 41 source categories that emit large quantities of greenhouse gasses. The 2011 data also contains new data collected from 12 additional source categories, including petroleum and natural gas systems and coal mines.

For facilities that are direct emitters of GHGs the data show that in 2011:

  • Power plants remain the largest stationary source of GHG emissions, with 2,221 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e), roughly one-third of total U.S. emissions. 2011 emissions from this source were approximately 4.6 percent below 2010 emissions, reflecting an ongoing increase in power generation from natural gas and renewable sources.

  • Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest sector, with emissions of 225 mmtCO2e in 2011, the first year of reporting for this group.

  • Refineries were the third-largest emitting source, with 182 mmtCO2e, a half of a percent increase over 2010.

EPA now has two years of greenhouse gas data for 29 source categories. Some industrial sectors, such as metals production and chemicals production, reported overall increases in emissions, while others, such as power plants, reported decreases. Overall emissions reported from these 29 sources were 3 percent lower in 2011 than in 2010. In the future the data collected through the program will provide the public with the opportunity to compare emissions and developing trends for all 41 industry types -by facility and sector.

This data is accessible through the Facility Level Information on Green House gases Tool (FLIGHT) - a web-based data publication tool. EPA has also expanded accessibility of this data through EPA's online database EnviroFacts that allows a user to search for information by zip code.

The data collection program is required by Congress in the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which requires facilities to report data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors, as well as suppliers of certain greenhouse gases, and products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted. EPA's GHG Reporting Program includes information from more than 8,000 sources and represents 85-90 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. This data only includes large facilities and does not include small sources, agriculture, or land use, which can also be significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Access EPA's GHG Reporting Program Data and Data Publication Tool:

Access EnviroFacts: epa.gov/enviro/

Contact Information: Julia Valentine (News Media Only), Valentine.Julia@epa.gov, 202-564-0496 / Cathy Milbourn (News Media Only), Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov, 202-564-7849

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