Angela Keane November 11, 2013
Ohio is the fourth highest CO2 emitter in the United States. Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere are leading to increasingly frequent severe weather events, sea level rise and other climatic changes. Scientists and policymakers worldwide are working to address and influence current and future energy policies.
At Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, researchers are working to contribute to this body of knowledge. Dr. Kevin Crist, director of the Center for Air Quality and professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Ohio University, has created a statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory to help stakeholders in Ohio understand the impacts of federal and state regulations on Ohio's CO2 emissions. Crist stressed the importance of knowing how the federal regulations will be incorporated into (or affect) state regulations and how they will ultimately affect the energy industry in Ohio. "Without knowing what is out there, you don't know how it will impact us," Crist said.
Working alongside Crist at the Center is Saikat Ghosh, air quality modeling specialist at Ohio University, who recently won the Air & Waste Management Association's Best Paper Award. He attended and presented his paper at the organization's 106th Annual Conference & Exhibition in Chicago in June. The paper outlines a comprehensive GHG inventory developed for Ohio with bottom-up calculations providing a framework for inventory development. This research also contains estimates for industrial processes and livestock populations. Ghosh's paper describes the need for a statewide GHG emissions inventory that can inform the economic and social risks of policies and regulations before they are implemented.
In order to keep the emissions inventory up to date, the team will have to be constantly integrating new technology. "The next step will be incorporating [emissions from] fracking since the industry is converting to natural gas instead of coal. We will also look into the reduction of CO2 and its overall impact to climate change, and understanding the carbon equivalence to methane," Crist said.
This project provides a model for future GHG emissions inventories because of its unique and inclusive methodology and its recognition of the impacts of regulations on state GHG emissions. Crist emphasized that CO2 is the biggest environmental concern that we have to deal with today, and there will be regulations for entities to comply with into the foreseeable future. "Unlike other pollutants, it's everything that we do, not just the industry. We are dealing with a bigger system to reduce emissions. We can't wait until it gets bad because when it does it will be too late. With this being said, we have a commitment to keep this project going."
Click here to view a recent presentation (.pdf) by Dr. Crist about the inventory.
The full GHG inventory can be accessed here: http://ohioghg.com/.
To read an extended abstract of Saikat Ghosh's paper (.pdf), click here.