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EPA: Dallas-based Luminant Produces a Hell of A Lot of Greenhouse Gas, And So Does Fracking

EPA: Dallas-based Luminant Produces a Hell of A Lot of Greenhouse Gas, And So Does Fracking
ZUMA Ralph Lauer/ZUMAPRESS.com

The Environmental Protection Agency -- that scourge of freedom-loving Texans -- just released a nifty little interactive greenhouse-gas database that will almost certainly threaten your liberty, the free market and the Second Amendment, somehow.

For starters, the data it compiled indicates Dallas-based electricity generator Luminant plays second fiddle to only one other utility in America when it comes to sheer volume. Its Martin Lake plant due east of here is the third most prolific emitter of greenhouse gases. Some 18.5 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent in 2011, to be exact. The Monticello plant in Mount Pleasant gets a participation medal for its 13 million tons.

More interesting, though, were the data pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil and gas production. This is the first time the agency has included the category in its inventory, and, as it turns out, it's the second biggest source of greenhouse gas in the country.

The emissions figures, which cover the entire life-cycle of oil and gas, from production at the wellhead to transmission through gathering lines and main lines, don't seem like much until you start adding up all the facilities in North Texas' Barnett Shale: WPX Energy's facility near Trophy Club, which churned out the equivalent of 192,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide 2011; Devon Energy's facility near Lake Ray Roberts chipped in 615,000 metric tons, just to name a couple.

This will almost certainly enter the debate over natural gas' greenhouse contributions. As a low-carbon form of energy, some say it's the way forward, the bridge fuel between oil and renewable energy. A few researchers have thrown cold buckets of water on the idea because the greenhouse gases released throughout the process may negate whatever climate benefit natural gas holds.

It's a problem that can largely be engineered away by building equipment that minimizes leakages, but that hasn't happened yet.


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