Emissions fell a half-percent in 2017 — EPA

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, April 15, 2019

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by a half-percent during President Trump’s first year in office, according to EPA’s final analysis for 2017.

That included a 4.25% drop in the power sector, coinciding with a 1.2% increase in transportation-related emissions, now the country’s top source of planet-warming emissions.

Those drops are due in part to falling fossil fuel combustion, largely the result of declining coal generation and increased use of natural gas and renewables, as well as relatively mild weather that led to decreased electricity use, EPA found.

The report, released yesterday, is the final version of EPA’s “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2017.”

The overall reduction is marginally different from a draft version of the document, which is mandated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that the agency published in the Federal Registerin February (Greenwire, Feb. 12).

EPA sold the overall reductions as a win for industry innovation, pointing to numbers that show a 13% drop in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2017.

In the power sector, previously the nation’s top emitter, emissions have fallen nearly 28% in the same period, according to EPA’s analysis.

Methane emissions were up slightly in 2017, but they have fallen by 15.8% since 1990, which EPA attributed in part to decreasing waste from natural gas transmission and storage.

Transportation emissions, however, continue to rise, and 2017 emissions overall were still up 1.3% compared with 1990.

Emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, were up 2.1% in 2017 compared with the previous year.

Courts have scrapped Obama-era efforts to phase out the potent greenhouse gases, used for cooling and refrigeration, part of the previous administration’s attempt to comply with a global agreement on HFCs known as the Kigali Amendment.

The Trump administration has not submitted the agreement for Senate approval and looks unlikely to do so, despite support from manufacturers and more than a dozen GOP senators.