Jets, oil fields push up Alaska's emissions

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Jets and energy consumption in the North Slope oil fields help make Alaska one of the top per capita greenhouse gas emitting states, according to a new inventory.

Alaska pumps as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as more populous states such as Oregon and Connecticut, according to the draft report by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases contribute to warming. Alaska is seeing the results of warming more than other states because of its northern latitude and melting sea ice, glaciers and permafrost.

Palin administration officials who developed the new inventory say they have no plans to press for emission targets or legal limits as some other states have done.

Congress is considering mandatory emission-reduction measures in line with international efforts.

The inventory will help evaluate how proposed legislation would affect Alaska communities and businesses, said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig. The study released this month is a draft, with public comment due Feb. 1.

The DEC study expands a preliminary inventory released almost a year ago.

It concludes that Alaska released 52.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005, with 61.5 million expected by 2020.

That equals about half the emissions of Washington, a state with 10 times Alaska's population. It comes to about 79 tons per Alaskan, more than three times the national average of 24 tons a year.

Oil companies top the list of emitters. BP Alaska's 10.7 million tons were just over half the industrial emissions in the state.

BP operates most North Slope fields, including the compression plant and central gas facility that together run on more than 1 million horsepower.

"It take a lot of energy to make energy," said BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart.

BP's parent company won praise a decade ago with its announced commitment to reduce global warming emissions at its operations. Rinehart last week was unable to cite major investments by the company in Alaska aimed at that goal but said future modernization efforts would include emission-reduction efforts.

Transportation accounted for 36.5 percent of Alaska's total emissions. That was based largely on jet fuel sold in Alaska, though state officials noted that much of the fuel was burned elsewhere after the jets departed.



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