EPA credits switches to gas for US power plants’ GHG reductions

Greenhouse gas emissions from US electric power plants declined 10% from 2010 to 2012 because of conversions to natural gas from coal and from slightly reduced demand, the US Environmental Protection Agency said.

It said 1,611 power plants emitted 2.09 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2012, down from 2.33 billion tonnes CO2e from 1,587 power plants 2 years earlier as measured by EPA’s GHG reporting program. Fossil fuel-fired power plants accounted for roughly 40% of total US carbon pollution, EPA said.

Total US refining CO2e emissions fell 2.8% to 173 million tonnes from 144 facilities in 2012 from 2010’s 178 million tonnes from 145 facilities, it added.

CO2e emissions from petroleum and gas facilities—representing onshore and offshore production; gas processing, transmission, underground storage, distribution; and LNG import and export operations, and storage—totaled 217 million tonnes from 2,058 facilities in 2012, 3.3% more than 210 million tonnes from 1,904 facilities in 2011, the first year it collected data for this sector, EPA said.

The agency began collecting data for its GHG reporting program in 2010 from more than 8,000 facilities in the most heavily emitting industries, including power plants, refineries, oil and gas facilities, chemical plants, iron and steel mills, and landfills. EPA said its program is the only one which collects facility-level GHG measurements from major industrial sources across the US.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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