The US EPA’s addition of oil, gas and coal methane emissions to its online greenhouse gas tracking tool increased national carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by over 80 million-metric-tons in 2011 from 2010, when figures were unavailable, reports Tiffany Stecker at Climate Wire. Although carbon dioxide is much more abundant, methane makes a far bigger impact on climate change with more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Carbon emissions from power plants were 4.5 percent lower in 2011 from 2010, due partly to switching from coal to natural gas, which releases, per kilowatt-hour, only half the carbon emitted from coal. Nonetheless, methane leaks and flaring in natural gas production could undermine the benefits. Last year, EPA completed standards requiring gas fracking wells to cut toxic emissions and smog-forming pollution. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of carbon emissions, outpacing petroleum and natural gas by almost 10-to-1. Power plants accounted for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions. Clean Air Watch president Frank O’Donnell noted, “If you want to take a real bite out of US greenhouse gas emissions, you have to go after power plants.”
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First-time reports from industry reveal massive methane emissions. U.S. EPA’s addition of oil, gas and coal methane emissions to its online greenhouse gas tracking tool revealed an 82.6-million-metric-ton increase in carbon dioxide equivalents over numbers from the previous year, when those figures were not available. ClimateWire