Digging deeper into northeast Indiana’s biggest carbon emitters

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 8:10 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Earlier this year, the United Nations’ latest climate report confirmed yet again the seriousness of the climate crisis.

The report warned of more extreme heat, fires, and floods over the next several decades. While some of the changes to our climate may be irreversible, experts say immediate action is needed to mitigate the worst effects. One key measure: reducing carbon emissions that fuel human-caused warming of our world.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere. Some greenhouse gases are needed. Too much of them, which is the problem right now, cause the earth to warm too much.

Experts say the science is clear. Greenhouse gases, which include carbon emissions, are polluting our climate and causing harm in the Midwest and around the globe.

Greenhouse gas emissions skyrocketed during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s. That same time period has been marked by warming that is different than natural climate cycles. Even today, factories produce carbon that contribute to our warming climate.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists six major carbon emitters in Allen county, most of which are industrial plants. The top three emitters--Superior Aluminium Alloys, GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly Plant, and the Serv-All Landfill--each produce less than one hundred thousand metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.

But there are much bigger emitters just outside the county. Steel Dynamics’ plant in Columbia City emits roughly three times what the Serv-All landfill does, and their Butler plant emits nearly ten times Allen county’s biggest emitter.

Two of the biggest emitters in the area, General Motors and Steel Dynamics, were willing to go on camera to talk about their actions to reduce emissions. They laid out environmental goals they hope to meet over the next several decades and insist they’re doing all they can.

Experts stress investing in changes to emissions will be for the best in the long run. Matt Flaherty at the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute says businesses who make adjustments will be at a competitive advantage and more resilient to changes in regulations. He notes it will be a big undertaking to make the transition to more environmentally friendly manufacturing, but it is necessary and worth it in the long run.

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