Carbon emissions: Think locally

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

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