U.S. Carbon Emissions Lowest Since 1994

U.S. carbon emissions are at their lowest since 1994.
National Journal
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Alex Brown
Oct. 21, 2013, 1:56 p.m.

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.”

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