EPA Large Facility Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data Shows Decrease in Power Plant Emissions

EPA recently released its 2015 Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) data.  The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program collects greenhouse gas (GHG) emission information from large industrial sources, including power plants.  The EPA’s GHGRP website includes access to the 2015 data sets, industry specific emission profiles, and EPA’s Facility Level Information on GHGs Tool (FLIGHT).  FLIGHT allows users to, among other things, view the top emitters by state or region, track emission trends, and download maps and charts.

In 2015, the power plant sector, which includes fossil fuel fired and biomass facilities that produce electricity, collectively reported close to 2.0 billion metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of GHG emissions.  (The “carbon dioxide equivalent” metric reflects multiple GHG emissions including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions.)  For comparison purposes the second highest sector, the oil and gas sector—which includes, among other things, onshore and offshore oil and gas production facilities, natural gas processing and distribution facilities, and liquefied natural gas import/export and storage facilities—collectively reported around 200 million metric tons CO2e.  And based on the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory data, which tracks total annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and removals by source, the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions for 2014 was around 6.9 billion metric tons CO2e.

When the power plant sector 2015 GHG emissions are compared against the sector’s emissions in previous years, it shows that emissions by the sector have been declining.  In 2011, when EPA first started collecting and reporting the GHGRP data, the power plant sector reported over 2.2 billion metric tons CO2e of GHG emissions.  The 2015 data reflects an 11% decline from 2011.  The data also show a decline since 2011 of each individual greenhouse gas emitted by the power plant sector, including an 11% decline in carbon dioxide emissions, a 14% decline in methane emissions, and a 20% decline in nitrous oxide.  Reports from the Energy Information Administration suggest that the decline could, in part, be due to the changing resource mix.

In announcing the release [link eliminated] of the 2015 GHGRP data, EPA stated that it expects to release in April 2017 updated Greenhouse Gas Inventory data with emission information from 2015.

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