Cement production undeniably minor in EPA greenhouse gas emissions census

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; CP staff

U.S. portland cement production accounted for 2.3 percent of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions in EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program 2015 data. Modern kilns increasingly running on natural gas and other coal alternatives, coupled with limited offsetting import factors, appear to position the domestic cement industry favorably in a business often tagged as the source of 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

The 95 U.S. plants in the 2015 EPA program reported 68.8 million metric tons (mt) of CO2e emissions, against a total of 8,003 emitters logging 3.05 billion mt. Portland cement, plus lime and glass production, account for more than 90 percent of CO2e emissions in Minerals (115.5 mt, 2015 emissions), one of nine program sectors. By contrast, the largest CO2e emitting sectors last year were Power Plant, with 2.0 billion mt; Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems, 231 million mt; and, Refineries, 176 mt.

In 2015, reported emissions from the large industrial sources, representing approximately 50 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, were 4.9 percent lower than 2014, and 8.2 percent lower than 2011. Reported emissions from other large sources in the Industrial and Waste sectors were a combined 852 million mt of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, down 1.6 percent from the prior year. Most sectors reported emissions reductions, with large declines in production of iron and steel (Metals sector) and fluorinated chemicals (Chemicals sector).

“The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program [provides] high-quality, long-term data for the largest emitters, and important details on greenhouse gas emissions trends,” says EPA Office of Air and Radiation’s Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator. “The program is showing us that the trend is moving in the right direction.”

Businesses can use agency data to track and compare facilities’ greenhouse gas emissions, identify opportunities to cut pollution, minimize wasted energy, and save money. States, cities and other communities can use it to find high-emitting facilities in their area, compare emissions between similar operations, and develop common-sense policies. Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data are also used to inform the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which estimates total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from across all sectors of the economy. EPA will publish the 1990-2015 Inventory in April 2017.