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California Air Resources Board adds Google Earth maps to show major sources of greenhouse gases

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) introduced a new mapping tool locating the the major sources of greenhouse gases in the state. The new application links ARB’s database of the state’s largest sources of greenhouse gases with Google’s mapping technology, including satellite photography that shows details of each facility.

The Google Earth module features a graphic representation of the relative size of each facility’s annual greenhouse gas emissions in relation to others throughout the state.

The application allows viewers to choose which sources they wish to see by sector (such as only choosing cement manufacturers, refineries, or power stations) and also displays specific counties, air basins and air districts. The application also shows six out-of-state facilities that provide some of the electricity imported into California.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently released a national mapping tool to display major greenhouse gas emitters, however, that application does not yet feature the Google Earth capabilities.

For the past three years, some 625 facilities in California with emissions exceeding 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year have been reporting their annual emissions to ARB. The results are independently verified by greenhouse gas emissions verifiers, trained and accredited by ARB. (California’s is the only system in the nation to require third-party verification of greenhouse gas reporting.)

This accurate and verified mandatory emissions reporting is the foundation of California’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions reduction program. The total number of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each company reports is equivalent to the number of permits (known as allowances) it must provide to ARB. In the beginning of the program, starting in 2013, the majority of those allowances are provided by ARB free of charge. The remainder needed to cover a company’s annual emissions can be bought at an auction held four times each year by ARB, or on the open market where companies that have made reductions offer surplus allowances for sale.

Over time, the total number of allowances ARB issues drops about two or three percent from one year to the next. This effectively limits and then lowers year over year the amount of greenhouse gases that all the major sources in the state can emit. Accurate and verified reporting demonstrates precisely how companies statewide are meeting the lowered cap on emissions.



This is a worthwhile project to make the data quickly available.

Will it cover Canada and the rest of the world?

Who will verify the accuracy of the reported GHG emissions? Currently, polluters can report whatever they want and is often under reported.


The California data are required to have 3rd party verification, so the numbers are accurate and not just what the facilities want to submit. The California Air Resources Board only collects from facilities in California, so you would need to use the U.S. EPA tool to see facilities in all 50 states. For Canada, I'm not sure, but I think Western Climate initiative may have some info.

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