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New EPA Data Brings Home the Reality of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

How much greenhouse gas does your neighborhood power plant emit?


Just a few blocks from my apartment, a ConEdison power plant looms over the East River. I don’t think about it much—it’s not particularly pleasant to walk by, but I rarely go that way, and it doesn’t smell or emit clouds of smoky pollution. It does emit a lot of carbon dioxide, though: more than 2.2 million metric tons in 2010, making it the sixth-largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in New York State that year.

The only reason I know how much greenhouse gas my neighborhood power plant dumped into the atmosphere is because today, the Environmental Protection Agency published the first results of its new greenhouse-gas reporting program. Since 1990, the EPA has depended on aggregated national data to calculate the country’s total emissions, but 2010 was the first year individual polluters were required to tell the agency exactly how much carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gases they produced. The EPA is making the resulting data publicly available online, and the site (although a bit sluggish) provides a much clearer picture of exactly where our emissions come from.

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Fred Upton's Own People Want Him to Leave the EPA Alone

House Commerce Chair Fred Upton wants to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. Turns out it's not a popular idea. With anyone, really.

I wrote earlier about the EPA's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. The broadest assault on the agency is a novel and illogical new "Energy Tax Prevention Act" that Fred Upton (R-MI) is trying to surface out of his House Energy Commerce Committee. The act would essentially strip away the EPA's right and responsibility (as determined by the Supreme Court and scientific consensus) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Turns out it's not such a popular idea. According to some new polling data released today, 62 percent of respondents in Upton's own district opposed his proposal. Using broader terms, the survey found that 67 percent of Upton’s constituents—including a full 60 percent of Republicans—agreed with the statement that "Congress should let the EPA do its job," as opposed to the minority who believe that "Congress should decide" what actions are taken to curb carbon pollution.

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