Throughout that US, facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year are required to report these pollution volumes to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has just released a new interactive map to make this data more accessible and visually understandable.
To put this volume of greenhouse gas pollution in national perspective, adding up all the major sources–those emitting 25,000 metric tons or more per year–account for well over half the entire nation's emissions.
Just over 200 major sources are located in New York, collectively emitting 52 million metric tons per year. More than three fourths of this annual total spews from 89 electricity generating power plants releasing 40 million tons into the air annually.
Three sites in Westchester are among the major polluters including an energy-from-waste power plant that the EPA characterizes–incorrectly in my view–as "other industrial" and not as a"power plant," the Wheelaborator Westchester Facility (Peekskill) at 267,942 metric tons, an "other industrial," American Sugar Refining (Yonkers) at 88,000 metric tons, and a "minerals" operation, LaFarge North American (Buchanan) at 52,000 metric tons.
In Rockland County just across Haverstraw Bay, the Bowline Generating Station, a natural gas fired power plant, spewed 204,000 metric tons in 2011. These are the twin stacks that can be seen from the Croton Landing Park looking to due west across the Hudson River, three and one half miles away across the water, just north of the High Tor peaks.
To put all this in local perspective, the entire governmental operations of the City of Peekskill (5,887 metric tons), Town of Cortlandt (2,902), and Village of Croton-on-Hudson (1,774) combined emit about 10,500 metric tons per year. These amounts come from the just completed local greenhouse gas inventories for which these municipalities worked closely with each other. These amounts do not include emissions in those communities outside the direct control of the local governments, such as homes, commercial spaces, or non-governmental institutions such as schools.
In short, this latest tally from the EPA, as of December 2011, shows how strongly the emission of vast quantities of greenhouse gas pollution is tied directly to the production of electricity in our country and our state.
Technical notes: It bears repeating here that our current electricity grid system relies on large, centralized power plants that then have to distribute those electrons long distances to end consumers. Of total energy devoted to electricity generation (1,526 TBtu) in New York, only one-third (478 TBtu) reaches end-users, while two-thirds (1,048 TBtu) is lost through inefficiencies in the conversion of fuel to electricity at the plant and line losses enroute to the end user. New York’s conversion losses are typical and comparable to the national pattern. (TBtu = trillion British thermal units) [Source: NYSERDA Patterns and Trends: New York State Energy Profiles: 1995-2009 (January 2011)]. Regarding units, 1 metric ton = 1,000 kilograms= 2,204 pounds (US) = 1.102 short tons (US). Regarding emissions, the following gases are tracked and reported: carbon dioxide (CO2,), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hexafluoroethane (C2F6), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), fluoroform (CHF3), and other hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons, in short all man-made emissions that have global warming potential.