2014 Iowa emissions report: Agriculture top emitter for second year, soil management nearly tops transportation


Smokestacks from a coal plant near Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Rich/Flickr)
Smokestacks from a coal plant near Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Rich/Flickr)
KC McGinnis | January 26, 2016

A 2015 summary of the previous year’s emissions record shows that Iowa’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2014.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report shows that Iowa’s emissions grew by 2.44% from 2013, increasing in every category but industrial processes, waste and transportation. A sector-by-sector breakdown shows that agriculture accounted for the most emissions, outpacing electric power generation from fossil fuels for the second straight year. 2014 also saw another steep rise in emissions from residential, commercial, and industrial fossil fuel use, a 6.18% increase that tied the sector with electric power at 33.44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted. Emissions from waste saw the biggest decrease, down 1.47% to 1.65 millions metric tons emitted.

Agriculture emissions are attributed to livestock, crop production, manure management, agricultural soils and burning of crop waste. Enteric fermentation – largely methane emissions from the digestive systems of animals – dropped in 2014 while agriculture’s biggest emitter, soil management, increased by 6.7% to 20.92 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent released – that’s almost as much as the emissions from all highway and non-highway vehicles in Iowa (21.61). The DNR attributes these increased emissions to higher crop production and fertilizer application. Too much fertilizer can lead to high nitrous oxide emissions, a greenhouse gas 300 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.

While the Iowa DNR projects a decrease in 2015, emissions are expected to increase up to 2030. For a link to the full report click here.

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