By Ramit Plushnick-Masti
HOUSTON (AP) — Greenhouse gas pollution decreased both nationwide and in Texas last year, but the Lone Star State still leads in carbon dioxide emissions, according to a federal report released Wednesday.
Scientists assert that greenhouse gas pollution, most of which is from carbon dioxide emissions, contributes to global warming.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s findings, based on data from more than 8,000 facilities required to report their greenhouse gas emissions to the agency, show a 4.5 percent drop in that pollution nationwide, largely due to a shift from burning coal to natural gas and a slight drop in electricity production.
And while Texas has also made strides, dropping its emissions from stationary sources by 3.4 percent — the state still emitted more than double the carbon dioxide of any other state — more than 392 million metric tons. The second-largest emitter was Indiana, with 155.1 million metric tons.
Some, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, argue climate change is due to natural variation, and not a result of man-made pollution.
Texas’ average temperature has risen 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last 30 years.
“We have a special responsibility to our citizens because we also lead the nation in many of the persistable results in terms of drought and agricultural losses, violent storms and torrential rains all of which cost Texas billions of dollars, and it’s only going to get worse as the climate warms,” said Tom Smith, the Texas director of Public Citizen, a nonpartisan lobbying group that focuses on the environment, health care and other issues.
“The good news is Texas has the ability to resolve this problem by increasing the use of renewables. We’re No. 1 in total potential,” Smith added.
Texas is home to many of the largest industrial polluters, including petroleum refineries, power plants and chemical facilities. But the state has decreased its reliance on traditional forms of energy and is now also the biggest producer of wind energy.
Renewables are 13 percent of the capacity and 9.8 percent of the energy produced in Texas, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that oversees the state’s electric grid.
The Department of Energy reported on Monday a 3.8 percent drop nationwide in carbon dioxide emissions.