EPA: Greenhouse gases from major polluters grew last year

Large industrial facilities emitted 20 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases, or a 0.6 percent increase, last year over 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

The EPA attributed the emissions gain to an uptick in the use of coal for power generation. 

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“Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life — increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease,” EPA head Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBusiness leaders must stand up and 'March for Science' on Saturday Trump isn't saving the coal industry. He's letting it compete. EPA chief: ‘Help is on the way’ for farmers MORE said in a statement.

The more than 1,550 power plants in the EPA’s database emitted more than 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 32 percent. Power plants’ emissions grew by 13 million metric tons.

Coal use for power generation increased 4.2 percent in 2013 to 858.4 million short tons, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The EPA’s Tuesday report was the annual release from its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. It relies on facility-level data from major industrial sources, such as power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills and landfills.

More than 8,000 facilities are included in the report, representing about half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second highest polluters, emitting 224 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, down 1 percent from 2012.

Refiners were next in line with 117 million metric tons, up 1.6 percent.

The EPA’s data also showed that methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems have fallen dramatically. Methane from oil and gas dropped 12 percent from 2011, with hydraulically fractured gas wells showing a 73 percent drop in that same time period.