Increased use of coal sends U.S. carbon dioxide emissions higher

The federal Energy Information Administration reported Monday that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States rose in 2013, for the third time in three years, because of a small increase in coal consumption by utilities.

“Once all data are in, energy-related CO2 emissions in 2013 are expected to be roughly 2% above the 2012 level, largely because of a small increase in coal consumption in the electric power sector,” said the report. “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. Emissions in 2013 are slightly more than 10 percent below 2005 levels.”

Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector have declined in recent years thanks to weak economic growth, improved energy efficiency, the boom in natural gas and “decarbonization,” as natural gas and renewable sources like solar and wind displaced coal.

The EIA notes that while coal has been the largest source of electricity generation in the United States for over 60 years, its annual share of total net generation declined from 50% in 2007 to 37% in 2012 as  power producers switched to lower-priced natural gas. Wyoming mines the most coal, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Carbon dioxide emissions graphic courtesy of EIA







Dana Hull Dana Hull (252 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.