Falling coal-fired power plant use helped lower state-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent in 2016

Falling electric production from coal-fired power plants during 2016 helped lower state-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the second year in a row, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

Greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluororcarbons – are emitted by power plants, industrial facilities, vehicles and agriculture (from animals, fertilizers and burning of crop residue). The greenhouse gas in the atmosphere absorbs infrared radiation, trapping and holding heat, which has led to global warming.

Emissions statewide totaled 128 million metric tons (of carbon dioxide equivalents) in 2016, down 2 percent from 2015, the IDNR report issued December 5 stated.

The 2016 greenhouse gas emissions were 9.3 percent lower than the peak total of 141.4 million metric tons in 2007.

Most of the decrease in 2016 was the result of lower emissions from coal-burning power plants because of milder summer weather, plus the increase in electric generation from wind and solar facilities.

"These decreases helped to offset increases in emissions from industrial processes (up 4.28 percent), changes in land use and forestry (up 4.69 percent), agriculture (up 1.82 percent) and other sectors," the IDNR reported.

CLICK HERE to download the full Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report.

Go to top