Air Resources Board adds Google Earth maps to show major sources of greenhouse gases

Californians can now locate major emitters in their communities.

Sacramento, CA—Californians can now locate the major sources of greenhouse gases and easily examine the emissions of each facility with a new mapping tool introduced today by the Air Resources Board.

“Knowing the exact quantity of greenhouse gas every major source pumps into the atmosphere is the foundation of an effective cap-and-trade program,” said Mary D. Nichols, ARB Chairman. “Thanks to our rigorous reporting program we know the amount of greenhouse gases each source emits down to the ton. This new application provides an easy way to pinpoint those sources on a map, and allows everyone to see at a glance how it compares to other facilities in the same county, or throughout the state.”

The new application links ARB’s database of the state’s largest sources of greenhouse gases with Google’s mapping technology, including satellite photography that shows details of each facility. The Google Earth module features a graphic representation of the relative size of each facility’s annual greenhouse gas emissions in relation to others throughout the state.

The application allows viewers to choose which sources they wish to see by sector (such as only choosing cement manufacturers, refineries, or power stations) and also displays specific counties, air basins and air districts. The application also shows six out-of-state facilities that provide some of the electricity imported into California.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently released a national mapping tool to display major greenhouse gas emitters, however, that application does not yet feature the Google Earth capabilities.

For the past three years, some 625 facilities in California with emissions exceeding 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year have been reporting their annual emissions to ARB. The results are independently verified by greenhouse gas emissions verifiers, trained and accredited by ARB. (California’s is the only system in the nation to require third-party verification of greenhouse gas reporting.)

This accurate and verified mandatory emissions reporting is the foundation of California’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions reduction program. The total number of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each company reports is equivalent to the number of permits (known as allowances) it must provide to ARB. In the beginning of the program, starting in 2013, the majority of those allowances are provided by ARB free of charge. The remainder needed to cover a company’s annual emissions can be bought at an auction held four times each year by ARB, or on the open market where companies that have made reductions offer surplus allowances for sale.

Over time, the total number of allowances ARB issues drops about two or three percent from one year to the next. This effectively limits and then lowers year over year the amount of greenhouse gases that all the major sources in the state can emit. Accurate and verified reporting demonstrates precisely how companies statewide are meeting the lowered cap on emissions.

To see ARB’s new application for reported greenhouse gas emissions, please visit:

For a brief tutorial on how to use the mapping application click here: