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From the Gavin Power Plant in Ohio, you get a sweeping view of the most carbon-intensive zip code in the U.S.

This morning, Politico’s Morning Energy team did some playing around with the EPA’s new interactive Greenhouse Gas Emissions database. They took the highest-emitting zip codes and correlated them with unemployment figures.

What they found was that the highest-emitting zip code, 45620 in Cheshire, Ohio, also had a well-above-average unemployment rate of 11.87 percent. Of the top five worst offenders, only one, 75691 in Tatum, Texas, had below-average unemployment (7.72 percent).

What does this prove? Politico’s suggestion that it challenges the idea that GHG-emitting industries create jobs is, at best, a bit of a stretch. It’s more likely a reflection of the fact that big industrial facilities tend to be sited in less-than-prosperous neighborhoods in the first place.

But it’s an example of the type of analysis this database will enable. It turns greenhouse gas emissions from an abstraction to a local-level issue. For instance, three plants in the same zip code as the Midwest Energy News office (OK, cubicle) emit 450,000 MT of CO2 each year.

I encourage you to play around with the database, and if something strikes you as odd or curious, drop us a line.

Photo by Jeff Lovett via Creative Commons

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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