This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 23, 2008

EPA: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dropped 1.1% in 2006

Mild weather, a drop in fuel consumption, and an increased use of renewable energy and natural gas all conspired to cause U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to decrease by 1.1% in 2006, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA's annual inventory of GHG emissions and sinks forms the official U.S. report to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It also represents a refinement of the inventory produced by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) back in November 2007, which found a 1.5% decrease in GHG emissions. Since 1990, U.S. GHG emissions have increased by only 14.7%, while the U.S. gross domestic product has increased by 59%. Carbon dioxide emissions dominate U.S. GHG emissions, providing 84.8% of the total emissions, and most of the carbon dioxide emissions are caused by burning fossil fuels. See the press release and report on the EPA Climate Change Web page, and for comparison, see the November 2007 press release from the EIA.

Map of the United States shows lower baseline greenhouse gas emissions in the West, with higher baseline emissions on the West Coast and in the East. Throughout the country, the highest emissions are concentrated in the urban areas.

The Vulcan project produced this map, which shows U.S. greenhouse gas emissions progressing from their lowest values, in light blue, to their highest values, in red. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Kevin Gurney, Purdue University

To get a better handle on U.S. GHG emissions, researchers at Purdue University, Colorado State University, and DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have estimated the geographic distribution of the emissions. The "Vulcan" project draws on federal government information about stationary emitters, such as power plants and industrial facilities, and combines it with estimates of GHG emissions from homes, commercial buildings, and vehicles, yielding a data set that is nearly complete (it currently omits aircraft and non-road vehicle use). The project, which was funded by DOE and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, shows emissions in the Southeast to be much larger than expected. See the Purdue press release and the Vulcan project Web site.

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