EPA Report: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Down from 2010-2011

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According to a government press release, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new annual report on greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations. It concludes that the U.S. saw a 1.6 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2011. Additionally, greenhouse gases have decreased by approximately 7 percent from the 2005 levels.

Here are some facts and details from the EPA's report, titled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2011," and the implications regarding the nation's output of greenhouse gases:

* The 374-page report, which is drafted every year, was delivered to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change after a multi-agency collaboration and public comment period.

* The EPA looked at six greenhouse gases emissions: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

* In the study, dozens of manmade and natural sources and sinks were assessed based on their output or sequestration of the gases.

* Emissions of these six gases in 2011 were the equivalent of 6.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.

* The Hill reported that the leading source of greenhouse gases in 2011 in the U.S. was electricity production through burning coal, oil, and natural gas. It contributed to one-third of overall emissions.

* While the country has seen a decrease over the 2005 levels, greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 8.4 percent since 1990 and electricity emissions have increased by 18 percent over the same time frame.

* Transportation accounted for 28 percent of overall emissions, but by upping the vehicle fuel economy standard through 2025, the EPA expects a reduction in transportation emissions, noted the Los Angeles Times.

* Carbon dioxide accounts for 84 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Ranking second is methane at 9 percent.

* Philly.com added that the EPA found that industry contributes to 20 percent of all emissions, followed by residential and commercial at 11 percent, and agriculture at 8 percent.

* The EPA also attributed the decrease in emissions from reduction in travel miles and year-to-year changes in prevailing weather.

* The agency noted the concerns regarding greenhouse gases, specifically that they contribute to climate change, which can threaten human and ecological health.

* On the opposite end, the inventory reaffirmed that forests, vegetation, and other natural processes, all known as "sinks," are extremely important in removing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and that better land-use planning can increase the amount removed.

* One finding was that urban trees are playing an increasingly important role in carbon dioxide sequestration.

Rachel Bogart is a current college student pursuing two science degrees. She provides an in-depth look at global, national, and local environmental issues and important news stories pertaining to the Chicagoland area.

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