Coal’s Rebound Pushes U.S. Carbon Emissions From Energy Back Up

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
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Ben Geman
Jan. 13, 2014, 4:45 a.m.

Coal has clawed back some of the ground it ceded to nat­ur­al gas in power gen­er­a­tion, and that’s push­ing U.S. car­bon di­ox­ide emis­sions back up a bit, too.

The fed­er­al En­ergy In­form­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, in a brief re­port Monday, said en­ergy-re­lated car­bon emis­sions in 2013 were about 2 per­cent above 2012 levels.

“Coal has re­gained some mar­ket share from nat­ur­al gas since a low in April 2013; however, the im­pact on over­all emis­sions trends re­mains fairly small,” re­por­ted EIA, which is the En­ergy De­part­ment’s in­de­pend­ent stat­ist­ic­al agency.

It’s the first in­crease in U.S. car­bon emis­sions from en­ergy in three years, EIA said.

But des­pite the up­tick over 2012, car­bon emis­sions last year were non­ethe­less 10 per­cent be­low 2005 levels, EIA found. En­ergy-re­lated uses, in­clud­ing power-plant fuels and trans­port­a­tion, ac­count for the vast bulk of U.S. car­bon emis­sions.

In re­cent years, the weak eco­nomy, great­er fuel ef­fi­ciency, the growth of nat­ur­al gas and re­new­ables in the power sec­tor, and oth­er factors have been driv­ing down U.S. green­house-gas emis­sions.

The United States, un­der Pres­id­ent Obama, has pledged to cut green­house-gas emis­sions 17 per­cent be­low 2005 levels by 2020.

In a re­port fi­nal­ized this month, the State De­part­ment said the U.S. can reach the goal by push­ing ahead with the White House’s second-term cli­mate plan.


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