Pruitt on GHG drop: Trump’s ‘critics are wrong again’

Source: Niina Heikkinen, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, April 20, 2018

Scott Pruitt is pointing to a drop in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions as evidence that “top-down” climate regulations aren’t needed.

The EPA administrator yesterday touted the results of the agency’s annual report that tallies U.S. emissions. The inventory, released last week, shows that domestic greenhouse gas emissions were down 2.5 percent in 2016 compared with 2015. Between 2005 and 2016, emissions fell about 11 percent.

“This report confirms the president’s critics are wrong again: One-size-fits-all regulations like the Clean Power Plan or misguided international agreements like the Paris Accord are not the solution,” Pruitt said yesterday.

“American ingenuity and technological breakthroughs, not top-down government mandates, have made the U.S. the world leader in achieving energy dominance while reducing emissions — one of the great environmental successes of our time,” he added.

Pruitt has often pointed to the importance of technology and innovation in cutting emissions, even as he simultaneously questioned how much human-driven emissions are causing harm to the planet.

He was one of the administration’s strongest proponents for the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement and is in the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan, a regulation finalized under the Obama administration aimed at controlling carbon emissions from the power sector.

The agency noted in a press release that between 2005 and 2016, the power sector had already dropped its greenhouse gas emissions by about 25 percent.

But while EPA touted the 11 percent decrease in carbon emissions between 2005 and 2016, the press release did not mention that carbon emissions actually increased by about 2.4 percent from baseline levels set during EPA’s first inventory in 1990.

The report shows that the transportation sector accounted for 28.7 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, followed closely by the electric power sector at 28.6 percent and industry at 21.7 percent. Just as the power sector has reduced emissions, industry emissions have also declined at least in part due to a shift away from manufacturing to more service-oriented jobs, according to the inventory.

The data collection is mandatory for the United States under international treaty. In addition to covering carbon dioxide and methane, it also tracks nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.