Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

I nerd out with EPA's new greenhouse gas database so you don't have to

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It's a start, anyway. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency releases a new national greenhouse gas database, made up of self-reported data from 9 groups of polluters around the country: refineries, power plants, chemical facilities, "other industrial" facilities, landfills, metals, minerals, pulp and paper plants, and government and commercial sites. We've got plenty of those here, and it's a fun tool to play around with if you're interested in the climate impacts of industry.

Though it probably won't surprise you. Let's give it up for the BP Carson refinery…which reported 3,960,504 metric tons of carbon dioxide released and 492.652 metric tons of hydrogen produced in 2010. LA County's big footprint winner! Orange County can barely compete: combined GHG emissions for AES Huntington Beach, the biggest polluter behind the Curtain, are just over 14% of that: 572,203 metric tons of greenhouse gas released in 2010. 

(The EPA has a handy equivalency calculator so you can compare those numbers to other things. But here's some shorthand: one metric ton of CO2 is about what gets emitted to meet energy demands in the "typical American household." In theory, humanity has put 520 billion metric tons of GHG into the air since 1750.)

You can nerd out on this new data now because Congress passed a law: four years ago, Congress decided that people have a right to know about carbon pollution. Power plants have already been reporting their greenhouse gas emissions for a couple of decades; this database fills in some of the rest of the picture. You can also cross-reference the information with the Toxics Release Inventory, since all of these places are registered in an EPA database that assigns a "Facility Registry System ID." 

Other fun facts:

  • 10 of the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters in this database are coal-fired power plants.
  • The Navajo Generating Station, which serves the LA Department of Water and Power, is 14th, with 16,276,000 metric tons of emissions reported.
  • Intermountain Power Plant, the one DWP says it would have a hard time getting out of before 2027, comes in 33rd, with 12,010,000 metric tons of CO2 reported. 

The EPA is working on rules for how to regulate greenhouse gas envisions at facilities like these. When they announced this database today, EPA administrators said they'll have those rules at the end of January. 

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