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Linn County releases first-ever greenhouse gas emissions inventory
The majority of the emissions in the county come from local industry
CEDAR RAPIDS — A major component of the area’s economy — agribusiness — is also a major contributor to local greenhouse gas emissions, according to a climate change report issued this week by Linn County.
The report, done by the Linn County Office of Sustainability with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, is the first step in documenting emission levels and sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the county.
The report is intended to help with the creation of a climate action plan to reduce emissions locally. The baseline inventory was completed for the year 2010, which was originally directed by the Board of Supervisors in the board’s 2019 Climate Resolution.
“It is important for local governments to complete greenhouse gas inventories to assess current and historical greenhouse gas emissions levels,” said County Sustainability Program Manager and report co-author Tamara Marcus. “Once a community has completed a baseline greenhouse gas inventory, then they can create a climate action plan that specifically addresses local emissions sources and actions to reduce those emissions.”
The report’s findings show that 34.2 percent of communitywide emissions in 2010 came from natural gas consumption; 27.4 percent from stationary fuel combustion; 20.5 percent from grid electricity; 8.2 percent from electricity generation; 8.6 percent from transportation; .6 percent from solid waste; and .6 percent from wastewater.
Over half those natural gas emissions came from industrial usage at 51.8 percent, according to the report.
In addition, “Linn County has a large number of manufacturing plants, as such, there is a large amount of Stationary Fuel Combustion,” the report states.
ADM Corn Processing was responsible for producing 82.55 percent of that stationary fuel combustion emission — and 24.22 percent of the total emissions in Linn County in 2010, according to the county report.
In 2010, the distribution of emissions by fuel type for ADM was unknown, according to the report. But based on 2011 data, the report assumed that the main contributor to emissions was subbituminous coal.
Aside from any future county goals to reduce emissions, ADM has its own companywide goals as well.
The company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2035 and says it has reduced its emissions by over 8 percent so far from its own 2019 baseline. The company also said it values protecting forests and by 2030 will eliminate suppliers that engage in deforestation or burning forests to clear land.
Behind ADM, the Prairie Creek Generating Station was second in stationary fuel combustion emissions and Ingredion Inc., Cargill, General Mills and Quaker Oats followed, according to the report.
Alliant Energy said last fall that its Prairie Creek station in Cedar Rapids would likely fully transition from coal to natural gas by the end of 2025.
Cargill is also among the agribusinesses that have set their own sustainability goals. The company has set targets to reduce its greenhouse emissions caused directly and indirectly by the company’s operations by 10 percent by 2025. The baseline for Cargill’s goals is its 2017 data.
In addition, the company said it will help reduce the impact of its supply chain by 30 percent per ton of product by 2030.
“This means working with farmers on projects like improving soil health and reducing emissions across our North American beef supply chain,” Cargill’s plan reads.
After completing the baseline report, the next step for the county is to develop a “more robust Climate Action Plan.”
In addition, Linn County Sustainability will begin recruiting members for its Climate Advisory Committee beginning in September, according to the county. The committee will help with tracking energy use and emissions indicators with yearly greenhouse gas inventories.
Based on the initial inventory results, the report states that these areas have the “greatest potential for emissions reduction”:
- Natural gas use in stationary fuel combustion
- Emissions associated with ADM Corn Processing stationary fuel combustion
- Natural gas consumption in the county
- Grid electricity emission factors
The county also will be holding public forums this month to present the report’s data and get input from community members in an effort to help create the climate action plan.
The public forums will be held:
- 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 14, 21 and 28: Fillmore Gardens, 520 11th St. NW, Cedar Rapids.
- 6 p.m. Aug. 15: Matthew 25, 201 Third Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids.
- 5-7 p.m. Aug. 31: African American Museum of Iowa, 55 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids.
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