WASHINGTON — The nation's power plants continue to be the single largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new information released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The inventory by the federal agency tracks emissions data by sector, greenhouse gas and specific geographic regions such as counties or states.
“Transparency ensures a better informed public, which leads to a better protected environment,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the 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.”
Though power plants released 2,221 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2011, emissions from them dropped 4.6 percent from 2010, the report shows. Power plants make up roughly one-third of the U.S. total for emissions.
Petroleum and natural gas systems made up the second largest emitting sector, followed by refineries.
In Utah, 14 power plants are responsible for 75 percent of the state's direct greenhouse gas emissions, releasing 33 million metric tons. PacifiCorps' Hunter power plant reported nearly 8.7 million tons of emissions, and its Huntington plant reported about 5.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Salt Lake County's two refineries logged a little more than a million tons in greenhouse gas emissions, while U.S. Magnesium contributed to just under 1.5 million metric tons, or 35.6 percent of the county's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the data.
Statewide, emissions from metals, minerals and refineries' operations each contribute 4.5 percent of the state's overall inventory.
Topping that was the "other" category at 6.8 percent, which includes underground coal mining, food processing, emissions from universities and military installations, and electronics manufacturing. That category also contains emissions levels for Kennecott Utah Copper in 2011, which stood at 696,891 metric tons.
This data is available through the Facility Level Information on Green House gases Tool, or FLIGHT, a web-based data publication tool. The EPA has also expanded accessibility of the data through its online database EnviroFacts, allowing a user to search for information by zip code.
The EPA's greenhouse gas reporting program includes information from more than 8,000 sources and represents 85 percent to 90 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This data only includes large facilities and does not include small sources, agriculture or land use.