EPA data shows US greenhouse gas emissions rising

Emissions from 8,000 power plants and major industrial sites in 2013 were up 0.6% on the previous year

The EPA gathered data from 8,000 major emitters such as steel works (Pic: Elliot Brown/Flickr)

The EPA gathered data from 8,000 major emitters such as steel works
(Pic: Elliot Brown/Flickr)

By Megan Darby

The latest data shows US greenhouse gas emissions rising, a week after president Barack Obama promised leadership on climate change.

Emissions from 8,000 large industrial sources in 2013 were up 0.6% on the previous year, driven by an increase in coal use for power generation.

The data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency covers around half the country’s total emissions, which cause climate change.

While it does not give the whole picture, the upward trend is consistent with recent figures from the Energy Information Administration.

Those showed emissions from energy use in the first half of 2014 were 2.7% higher than the same period last year.

At last Tuesday’s climate summit in New York, Obama told world leaders the US would hit its target to cut emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

The US and China have “a special responsibility to lead” on climate action as two biggest emitters, he said.

However, after falling 10% between 2005 and 2012, US greenhouse gas emissions have turned in the wrong direction.

“Fugitive” methane emissions from shale gas wells bucked the trend, dropping 73% since 2011.

That will help to answer one of the main environmental concerns raised about “fracking” techniques.

The EPA has brought in oil and gas industry standards it said should further reduce methane leaks.

EPA chief Gina McCarthy said: “Climate change, fuelled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life – increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease.

““EPA is supporting the president’s climate action plan by providing high-quality greenhouse gas data to inform effective climate action.”

As part of Obama’s climate action plan, the EPA is seeking to bring in restrictions on pollution from coal power stations.

The measures, which the EPA estimates will shrink emissions from the power sector 30% by 2030, are fiercely contested.

Coal producers and generators complain the regulations will hurt the economy. That message has been taken up by Republicans and a few Democrat candidates ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Under pressure from lobbyists, the agency extended the consultation period by six weeks. It is also expected to face legal challenges.

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