The United States is the largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. China might have recently passed us up when it comes to annual emissions, but take heart: Our coal-fired power plants and industrial factories are still churning out pollution with the best of them.
Which is why the EPA has done a great service by compiling the latest greenhouse gas emissions data onto a handy interactive map, so you can see for yourself where the major emitters are. The map includes only industrial polluters who pump out more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, so there's plenty missing from this picture.As Jess Zimmerman notes at Grist, "There's no transportation, or residential, or agricultural facilities represented. But you're looking at more than half of the United States' GHGs, including all the major polluters." So click over and mess around – see which industrial scale carbon emitter is lurking in your neck of the woods.
Naturally, I tracked down the nation's single largest source of greenhouse gas pollution, the Scherer plant, a massive coal-fired power plant in Georgia that boasts four separate 880 MW units. It alone spews nearly 23,000,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.
The tool is useful for getting a better sense of how industry and our power sector contribute to climate change – and serves as a useful reminder that the U.S. still gets 50% of its energy by burning coal, the chief source of carbon emissions worldwide.