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EPA Charts Greenhouse Emissions from Big Operations

In 2008 Congress tasked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with creating a first-of-its-kind, national, comprehensive greenhouse gas reporting system. On Thursday, the agency released the facility level greenhouse gas data to the public.

Gina McCarthy with the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation said the data is a boon to those who want to chart and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

"It can be used by communities to identify nearby sources of greenhouse gas emissions; it can be used by facilities to compare their emissions to similar operations to see where there may be cost-effective opportunities for reductions; it can be used by businesses to track their own emissions over time to monitor their greenhouse gas emission reduction success; it can used by states to get reliable and comprehensive gas emissions data from facilities within their borders, and to inform policies and programs; and it can be used by the finance and investment community to make more informed investment choices," said McCarthy.

The data was collected from more than 6,700 facilities and suppliers in 2010, with a focus on operations that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide or the equivalent, annually. The data does not include emissions from the agriculture sector of from specific tracts of land.

Emissions Close to Home

In Allegheny County, the EPA map of big emitters includes twenty facilities, with U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock at the high end with 3,642,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, followed by the Cheswick Power Plant with 1,761,000. Several of the sources are in Pittsburgh, including Bay Valley Foods on the North Shore and Duquesne University in Uptown.

In the coming months, McCarthy says they will continue to verify and refine the data and begin to collect 2011 information so they can start to track trends in greenhouse emissions. The EPA will also collect data from twelve new industry groups that will be reporting their emissions for the first time.

An interactive map of facility level emissions can be found on the EPA's website.