As the economy heats up so does the planet, the Environmental Protection Agency suggested in a report released on Monday.
Greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to global warming rose 3.2 percent in the United States from 2009 to 2010 due largely to economic expansion, the EPA said in an annual report to a United Nations organization working on climate change.
The increase was due to greater energy consumption across all parts of the economy and a hot summer in 2010, which prompted more electricity demand to power air conditioners, the EPA said.
The upward trend reverses two years of decreased greenhouse-gas emissions due mostly to a weak economy. From 2008 to 2009 emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas from fossil-fuel sources like vehicles and coal-fired power plants, dropped 6.6 percent. The new U.S. data show the largest increase in CO2 emissions since 1988.
Last month the EPA announced the first-ever greenhouse-gas standards for future power plants, but the rules won't have an impact on carbon emissions for years. During a conference call announcing the rules for future plants on March 27, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson skirted answering a question about how much it would affect U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. “It’s very difficult to do that," she said.
Still in development are rules to limit greenhouse gases from existing power plants, which would have a more immediate effect. EPA is bound by a court order to propose greenhouse-gas standards for existing plants, but it remains uncertain when or if the agency has plans to promulgate such rules.
EPA reports annual U.S. greenhouse-gas-emissions data as part of its role in the multinational United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Most scientists agree that greenhouse-gas emissions from human activities such as power production and transportation is the primary cause of global warming. Congressional efforts to address climate change have stalled since 2010 when emissions began increasing again.