WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants fell 10 percent in 2012 from 2010 as more facilities switched to cleaner-burning natural gas from coal and electricity generation also fell, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday.
The environmental regulator published its third national greenhouse gas inventory, which collects emissions data from over 8,000 of the biggest industrial emitters in the United States on a website that is accessible to the general public.
Of the thousands of facilities that reported emissions, fossil fuel power plants was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Just under 1,600 facilities emitted over 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012 - roughly 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.
The fleet of exiting power plants will be the main target of President Barack Obama's climate action plan, which requires the EPA to propose a rule to regulate their emissions by June 2014.
The EPA on Wednesday kicked off an 11-city listening session tour to solicit feedback from states that will need to implement plans to reduce power plant emissions.
The reporting rule was one of the first regulations targeting greenhouse gas emissions implemented by the EPA.
Wednesday's data showed that the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters were all in the power sector. The most polluting plant, located in Georgia, emitted 21.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2012.
The other heaviest polluting plants on the list were located in coal-heavy states like Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Arizona, Michigan and Kentucky.
Earlier this week, the Energy Information Administration, part of the Department of Energy, said that U.S. energy related carbon dioxide emissions fell to their lowest level since 1994.
But the EIA also showed that emissions are likely to rise in 2013 because of a rise in natural gas prices, which is expected to push some utilities to shift back to burning carbon-intensive coal.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Marguerita Choy)