WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an interactive Web site that makes public for the first time detailed information about greenhouse gas emissions.
The emissions come from power plants, oil refineries and other big industrial sources.
The Web-based Greenhouse Gas Emission Data tool allows individuals to track emissions by state, location, facility, industrial sector and type of greenhouse gas, based on 2010 data collected from more than 6,700 facilities across nine major industries.
The EPA's data release is mandated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, requiring the reporting of greenhouse gas data from large emission sources across those industry sectors.
"The GHG Reporting Program data provides a critical tool for businesses and other innovators to find cost- and fuel-saving efficiencies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and foster technologies to protect public health and the environment," Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said Wednesday in a statement.
McCarthy said it is designed to be user-friendly, so that businesses, industry and non-profits can get a better understanding of where greenhouse gases are being generated and "to build enthusiasm for greenhouse gas reductions."
EPA's findings show that in 2010, power plants, the largest stationary source of greenhouse gases, emitted 2,324,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent, followed by petroleum refineries with emissions of 183,000,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent.
Carbon dioxide emissions, the database shows, accounted for 95 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, methane at 4 percent and nitrous oxide and other gases at 1 percent.
"Carbon pollution is pretty abstract for most people, and they don't where it comes from and who's responsible," said David Doniger, policy director for the Climate and Clean Air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"These kinds of right-to-know tools are very popular and can make a difference. Once people know the level of greenhouse gases in their backyards, they will demand to know what company officials and elected officials will do about it."
While the EPA's data accounts for 80 percent of the nation's total greenhouse gas emissions for 2010, total greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.9 percent in 2010 to 213 million metric tons, the highest rate since 1988, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The EPA is expanding its 2011 reporting requirements to include 12 new industry groups, including underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment facilities and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide.