U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions dropped again in 2012, says the Energy Information Administration, down 3.8 percent from the year before and the lowest since 1994.
The country's energy data-collector pegged emissions at 5.29 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide for 2012, continuing a downward trend that started in 2007. Although the recession contributed to emissions decline, continued dropoffs in 2012 indicate policy and usage patterns are giving carbon reductions some staying power.
EIA also cited weather, as a warm year proved less taxing on heating demands. Residential electricity use and transportation emissions also trended below levels from recent years.
One industry group credited the growing natural-gas industry with helping lower emissions. "[A] major part of that progress comes from the development of America's abundant natural gas resources," said Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute. "Innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have helped make the U.S. the biggest developer of natural gas in the world, and these technologies are a great example of how we can grow the economy, create jobs, and clean the air."