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The US Energy Information Administration has just released a new report stating that after several years of constant decline energy-related carbon dioxide pollution in the US grew by 2% in 2013. The increase has been blamed on the surge in coal consumption for the generation of electricity.
The report claimed that in 2012 cars and factories emitted 5.27 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but that rose to 5.38 billion tonnes in 2013.
Coal has long been the major source of energy used to generate electricity in the US, but thanks to the low price of natural gas many power plants had begun to use this cheaper, cleaner source. Recently natural gas prices have begun to increase once more and coal experienced a small resurgence, resulting in the boost to carbon dioxide emissions. In 2012 coal supplied 37% of US electricity and natural gas supplied 30%; that changed to 39% and 28% respectively in 2013.
Related article: Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice?
40% of US carbon emissions, and a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, are generated by power plants producing electricity, yet despite the increase in this sector the total carbon emissions produced by the US is still 10% below 2005 levels. This is more than half the reduction needed to achieve President Barack Obama’s goal of lowering carbon emissions by 17% compared to 2005 levels by 2020.
In order to help encourage further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions Obama has bypassed Congress to impose limits on emissions produced by power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency will set out a guideline to help states regulate the greenhouse gases emitted by power plants. The plan is to help encourage the power industry to move away from dirty coal, and towards cleaner sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, and natural gas.
Obama also plans to boost clean energy production on federal lands, and increase efficiency standards in industries across the country.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com