NewsFebruary 5, 2013

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Power Plants Fell in 2011

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By Lauren Morello

Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants fell 4.6 percent in in 2011, according to new government figures. 

That’s a sign that power generation is relying less on coal and more on natural gas and renewable sources, EPA said.

The agency released its second annual listing of emissions from the nation’s largest industrial polluters Tuesday, compiling emissions data from 8,000 facilities nationwide, including power plants, refineries and factories. (The data is available online, via the agency’s mapping tool.)

The W.A. Parish Generating Station in Thompsons, Texas, produced the equivalent of 17.726 million metric tons of CO2 in 2011, EPA figures show.
Credit: flickr/roy.luck

For the second year, power plants topped the agency’s emissions list, producing 2,221 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2011. That equals about one-third of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, EPA said.

Petroleum and gas production, transmission and distribution ranked second, emitting 225 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. But that sector, appearing for the first time on the EPA list, was tops in methane production, the agency said.

Refineries came in third on the overall emissions list, producing 182 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2011.

The R.W. Scherer Generating Plant in Juliette, Ga., produced more greenhouse gas emissions last year than any other individual facility for the second year in a row, EPA’s data showed. The Georgia site emitted 22.067 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, roughly equal to the CO2 emissions from 4.1 million cars or from burning nearly 82,000 railcars full of coal.

Four other power plants round out the list of the country’s top five greenhouse gas-producing industrial sites:

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