EIA clarifies that CO2 emissions fell in ‘nearly’ every state between 2005 and 2013

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Nov. 23 revisited some earlier-published data on the reduction in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions between 2005 and 2013.

EIA said in its latest report that the earlier posting failed to specify if that decline was in absolute or per capita terms. “From 2005 to 2013, state emissions per capita fell in 48 states (including the District of Columbia) and rose in 3 states. In absolute terms, emissions fell in 42 states and rose in 9 states,” EIA said Nov. 23.

This is an issue of intense discussion these days as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan will require states to implement plants to cut power sector CO2 32% by 2030.

The Clean Power Plan will be a big topic at both the GenerationHub GenForum and PennWell’s POWERGEN-International in Las Vegas. ScottMadden Partner Todd Williams will discuss the Clean Power Plan Dec. 7 in Las Vegas. A number of sessions at POWERGEN will also tackle the EPA carbon proposal.

EIA’s latest analysis of state-level energy-related CO2 emissions includes data in both absolute and per capita terms, including details by fuel and by sector.

This latest EIA analysis measures emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are consumed. Therefore, to the extent that fuels are used in one state to generate electricity that is consumed in another state, emissions are attributed to the former rather than the latter. An analysis attributing emissions to the consumption of electricity, rather than to the production of electricity, would yield different results.

The 10 states with the highest levels of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2013 accounted for half of the U.S. total. These 10 states also have large populations and account for slightly more than half (53%) of the nation’s total population. California was the second-highest emitter in absolute terms (353 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or MMmt CO2), behind only Texas (641 MMmt CO2). But California was also the fourth-lowest emitter on a per capita basis, behind the District of Columbia, New York, and Vermont. Relatively small states such as Wyoming and North Dakota had much higher levels of per capita emissions in 2013, nearly seven times and five times the national average, respectively.

Energy-related CO2 emissions come from coal, petroleum, and natural gas consumed within a state to produce electricity (38% of U.S. total), to transport goods or people (33%), to operate industrial processes (18%), or to directly fuel equipment in residential and commercial buildings (10%). The consumption levels by fuel and by sector vary considerably by state. For example, coal consumption accounted for 78% of energy-related CO2 emissions in West Virginia in 2013, while coal only accounted for 1% of emissions in California.

Consumption of petroleum accounted for more than 90% of energy-related CO2 emissions in two states, Hawaii and Vermont, but for different reasons, EIA said.

In both states, emissions from the transportation sector accounted for more than 50% of energy-related emissions. In Vermont, the nonelectric (or direct) residential share of total emissions was 23%, mostly from petroleum-based fuels such as heating oil used to fuel furnaces and water heaters. Vermont’s electric power sector share of emissions from petroleum was only 0.2%, as very little of the state’s electricity in 2013 was generated from petroleum or any other fossil fuels.

Hawaii, on the other hand, has very little direct use of petroleum for residential heating but much higher use of petroleum for power generation.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.