Coal-fired power plants and oil refineries in Texas generated 294 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, greater than the next two states - Pennsylvania and Florida - combined, according to new federal government data.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released 2010 data collected from more than 6,700 facilities which release at least 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, showing the Lone Star state is leading the way.
The new EPA data shows Texas also leads the country in number of facilities releasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the state is involved in several legal battles challenging the agency from instituting regulations. Governor Rick Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, and other state officials claim the EPA is basing its numbers on faulty data, making it a detriment to the state’s economy.
Coal-fired power plants in Texas accounted for 61 percent of total GHG emissions in 2010, while oil refineries added 15 percent. Chemical producers added 13 percent.
Howard Feldman, the American Petroleum Institute’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs state the government data shows the oil industry should not be included in new rules regulating GHG emissions because it creates, compared to the coal industry, a fraction of the nation’s total emissions.
“Air quality continues to improve and we’re doing our part,” Feldman said, MySA reports. “The last thing we need now are more burdensome or unnecessary regulations that will create a drag on business efforts to invest, expand and put people back to work.”
In Texas, there are 673 power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities reporting GHG emissions to the EPA. California, with 456 such facilities in the EPA database, is a distant second.
Leading Texas in 2010 GHG emissions, and ranked fourth in the nation, is the Martin Lake coal-fired power plant in Rusk County, owned by Luminant. It released almost 19 million tons of carbon dioxide and associated heat-trapping gases.
Environmental groups claim the new data shows the need for GHG regulations. “It highlights the need to take action, especially considering the extreme weather we have seen lately,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, a state advocacy group, the San Antonio Express News reports.
Scientists also note the data gives credence to the need for regulations. “This is another reality check for the state,” said Elena Craft, a scientist with the Environment Defense Fund, according to MySA. “The data shows that power plants and refineries are mostly responsible for these emissions, and its time for the state to accept responsibility.”