Much progress can be made to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gases through recycling, waste reduction, smart growth, and by reusing formerly contaminated sites including “brownfields,” according to a report just issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
EPA says, not without controversy, that climate change is primarily the result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and its effects will worsen over time in the absence of regulatory action. EPA also ruled earlier this year that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare.
“Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices” claims that 42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by materials management policies. These include the impacts from extracting raw materials, food processing, and manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of products.
EPA says another 16% to 20% of emissions are associated with land management policies. That includes emissions from passenger transportation, construction, and from lost vegetation when greenfields are cleared for development. In addition, the equivalent of 13% of U.S. emissions is absorbed by soil and vegetation and can also be protected or enhanced through land management policies.