EPA reports GHG emissions from ethanol plants

By Erin Voegele | October 07, 2014

The U.S. EPA has released updated data gathered through its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, which details greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution trends and emissions broken down by several category types. Ethanol producers are among the industrial facilities addressed in the program. This is the fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data released by the EPA.

According to the EPA, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is the only program that collects facility-level GHG data from major industrial sources across the U.S., including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills, and landfills. The program also collects data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, which are predominantly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

“Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life—increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is supporting the President’s Climate Action Plan by providing high-quality greenhouse gas data to inform effective climate action.”

Overall, EPA has report that GHG emissions levels from large industrial facilities were 20 million metric tons higher last year than in 2012. That is a 0.6 percent increase for 2013. More than 8,000 emitters reported GHG data for 2013. Power plants remain the largest source of emissions with 2.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) last year. Petroleum and natural gas systems emitted 224 million metric tons of CO2e. Refineries, chemicals and waste sectors emitted a respective 145 million metric tons of CO2e, 175 million metric tons of CO2e, and 114 million metric tons of CO2e. Metals facilities emitted 107 million metric tons of CO2e, with minerals emitting 111 million metric tons of CO2 and pulp and paper emitting 39 million metric tons of CO2e. Other reporting facilities emitted 137 million metric tons of CO2e.

The program collected data on 163 U.S. ethanol facilities last year, which emitted a combined 17 million metric tons of CO2e. Emissions levels for individual plants range widely, from as low as 0 tons of CO2e to as high as 693,224 tons of CO2e.  

The volume of GHG emissions reported for the ethanol industry has dropped slightly in the four years of EPA reporting. In 2012, the EPA collected data on 166 ethanol plants, which emitted a combined 17 million metric tons of CO2e. In 2011, GHG data was collected from 163 ethanol plants, which emitted a combined 18 million metric tons of CO2e. In 2010, the EPA collected data from 160 ethanol plants, which emitted a combined 18 million metric tons of CO2e.

Additional information on the EPA’s GHG data, including emissions levels for individual ethanol plants, can be accessed using the FLIGHT tool on the EPA website