Greenhouse Gas Emissions Down in One-Third of States

WASHINGTON, DC, November 12, 2009 (ENS) – Emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by burning coal, oil and gas, increased by 19 percent in the United States from 1990 to 2007. Yet, nationally, the rate of emissions growth has slowed, and emissions peaked in many states in 2004 and 2005, according to a new analysis of government data released today by the nonprofit Environment America.

The report finds that carbon dioxide, CO2, emissions have declined in one-third of the America’s 50 states since 2004. Actions by these states to use energy more efficiently and switch to cleaner forms of energy played a role in reducing emissions, the analysis shows.

Still, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption rose in 33 states between 2004 and 2007.

“The transition to clean energy is a marathon, and we’ve just laced up our sneakers,” said Emily Figdor, Environment America’s federal Global Warming Program director.

The coal-fired Martin Lake power plant in Texas (Photo courtesy TXU)

Texas remained the nation’s number one emitter of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use in 2007, followed by California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, the analysis shows.

Wyoming produced the most carbon dioxide pollution per capita, followed by North Dakota, West Virginia, Alaska and Louisiana.

Rhode Island produced the least carbon dioxide per capita in 2007, followed by New York, Vermont, Idaho and California.

“Nationally, the rate of growth in carbon dioxide pollution has slowed but emissions still remain above the levels of two decades ago and well above the levels needed to prevent the worst impacts of global warming,” the report states.

Environment America is calling on the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent by 2020 to stop the worst effects of global warming.

“It’s time to take back control of our energy future,” Figdor said. “By harnessing the power of the wind and the Sun, we can cut pollution and transition to clean energy sources that don’t harm the environment, never run out, and create new, local jobs.”

Entitled, “Too Much Pollution: State and National Trends in Global Warming Emissions from 1990 to 2007,” the report uses the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy on state by state fossil fuel consumption to look at trends in carbon dioxide emissions.

The report finds that nationally, emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increased by 19 percent between 1990 and 2007. Power plants and vehicles, the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, were responsible for most of the increase.

Emissions peaked in many states in 2004 or 2005 and declined in 17 states and the District of Columbia between 2004 and 2007 – even before the recession reduced fossil fuel use still further, the report finds.

Four Northeastern states – Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and New York – and the District of Columbia emitted less carbon dioxide from fossil fuel consumption in 2007 than they did in 1990.

The biggest factor in all four states was a shift to cleaner forms of electricity. These states cut their greenhouse gas levels by five percent since 1997, while increasing their gross state product by 65 percent.

The report recommends that the federal government build on the initial progress made by states by passing strong clean energy legislation and adopting common sense Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut pollution from dirty coal plants and big smokestack industries.

The EPA has proposed a rule to require coal plants and other large emitters to use the best available technology to cut their greenhouse gases when new facilities are constructed or existing facilities are upgraded.

Environment America is not taking sides in the argument over whether legislation or regulation is the best way to cut greenhouse gas emissions – the group wants the country to do both.

“The Senate must pass an energy bill that requires old, clunker coal plants to meet modern standards for global warming pollution so we can be successful in our fight against global warming and finally move to clean energy, like wind and solar power,” said Figdor. “We also urge EPA to finalize its rule to cut global warming pollution from dirty coal plants.”

Click hehere to view the report, “Too Much Pollution: State and National Trends in Global Warming Emissions from 1990 to 2007.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

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