EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data from Large Facilities
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its sixth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, detailing greenhouse gas pollution trends and emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. In 2015, reported emissions from large industrial sources, representing approximately 50 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, were 4.9 percent lower than 2014, and 8.2 percent lower than 2011.
“Under the President’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is taking steps to ensure a safer future for our children and grandchildren,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is supporting this by providing high-quality, long-term data for the largest emitters, and contributing important details on greenhouse gas emissions trends. The program is showing us that the trend is moving in the right direction.”
More than 8,000 large facilities reported their direct greenhouse gas emissions from 2015 to EPA. The data from these facilities show that in 2015:
Power plants remained the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with nearly 1,500 facilities emitting approximately 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, roughly 30 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in 2015. Power plant emissions in 2015 declined by 6.2 percent as compared to 2014, and by 11.3 percent since 2011.
Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest stationary source of emissions, reporting 231 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Reported emissions for 2015 were 1.6 percent lower than 2014, but 4.1 percent higher than 2011.
Reported emissions from other large sources in the industrial and waste sectors were a combined 852 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, down 1.6 percent from 2014. Most sectors reported emissions reductions, with large declines in reported emissions from the iron and steel sector and the production of fluorinated chemicals.
The above is a portion of a news release by the EPA three months ago. You can, at least as of this writing, view the entire release on the EPA website. You can also download the 2016 Climate Change Indicators Report. At least as of this writing (Tuesday night, 10:15 p.m.) you can do so. Tomorrow? Who knows? Will there ever be another? Who knows?
Big Brother is watching and shutting down the information flow from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) division of the Department of Agriculture.
On Tuesday, the EPA staff was told by members of the Trump administration not to speak to reporters or publish any press releases or blog posts on social media. EPA staff have also been asked not to publicize any talks, conferences, or webinars that had been planned for the next 60 days. In addition, all contracts and grants are to be stopped indefinitely.
Environmental groups reacted with outrage. Sierra Club’s climate change policy director Liz Perera said, “President Trump’s move to freeze all communications and EPA grant programs on the first day of his job should be a major red flag for all Americans at the start of a new administration. The EPA was created to ensure that all Americans can enjoy clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and have their health protected from environmental and climate threats. Trump’s action puts American lives and communities at risk.”
Scott Pruitt, who is Trump’s nominee to head the EPA, has not yet been confirmed by the senate, and in fact no vote is scheduled at this time. Since Pruitt is a climate change naysayer, it is likely that if confirmed he will fully support Trump’s gag order.
Eric Schneiderman, New York’s Attorney General, is a Democrat, and from what I know of him, basically a straight shooter and a good guy (he IS a New Yorker, after all). In August 2013, he filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Donald Trump for his “Trump University”, alleging it to be an “unlicensed university” and calling it a “bait-and-switch scheme” (see, I told you he is a good guy!). Schneiderman said in reaction to the EPA freeze that his office “will examine all legal options to ensure the EPA meets its obligations to keep our state’s air and water safe.” There are a couple of problems with that, however, the first being that he has jurisdiction only in New York, and there are 49 other states. The other problem is that, in this post-truth world where ‘alternative facts’ are considered legitimate by some, who is to say what is “safe”?
Trump has promised to promote oil drilling and mining by cutting regulation, including by targeting President Obama’s initiative to combat climate change. In fact, Trump has already begun the process to resume work on both the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as the Keystone pipeline, but that is a topic for another time. Sigh … I cannot keep up!
The Department of Agriculture also has seen efforts to curb communication. On Monday, staff at the department’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) were asked in an email to suspend the release of “any public-facing documents.” The ARS focuses on scientific research into the main issues facing agriculture, including long-term climate change.
The Department of Agriculture disavowed the email on Tuesday, saying in a statement that it was released without “departmental direction and prior to departmental guidance being issued” and that peer-reviewed scientific research would still be published. The ARS is the main research agency of the USDA and is tasked with “finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table.”
Government science is what determines which strain of flu should go into each year’s flu vaccine. It’s what helps us avert pandemics and helps farmers maximize yield of the foods that feed us all. The work of Cooperative Extension, which exists to improve the livelihood of farmers, is underpinned by government science. The research has value because of its dissemination to the public. When science isn’t released and discussed, we can’t make decisions based on it.
Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture is one Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, who is, like Trump and Pruitt, a climate change denier. In addition, Perdue enacted strict voter ID and immigration laws in his home state. If there is long-term hope for transparency from the ARS, it does not rest with Perdue. In 2014, Perdue wrote in the National Review: “It’s become a running joke among the public, and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.” I … I … I am …. speechless (for once)
Scientific inquiry is meant to produce hard facts that the world can rely on. But the easiest way to make science lie is to keep the public from interrogating it.
All of these moves do not bode well for the citizens of this nation, for our environment, nor for the health of planet earth and all its inhabitants. At this point, our hopes may have to lie in private and academic scientific institutions who are doing research into climate change, as I suspect that even when/if the agencies dealing with climate change are no longer under a media freeze, we will no longer be able to believe what we hear from them.