US carbon emissions in surprise drop

Aug 17, 2012 by Shaun Tandon
The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia in 2009. US emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for climate change fell in 2011 and have slipped to a 20-year low this year as the the world's largest economy uses more natural gas and less coal, data shows.

US emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for climate change fell in 2011 and have slipped to a 20-year low this year as the the world's largest economy uses more natural gas and less coal, data shows.

The surprise drop from the world's second biggest emitter comes despite the lack of legislation on but it was unclear if the change marked a trend or would be enough to meet goals on fighting .

Official data showed that energy-related US carbon emissions fell by 2.4 percent in 2011 from the previous year.

The decline did not fully track the broader economy as the posted growth in 2011, whereas the last time emissions declined was in 2009 during a contraction in the economy.

In the first three months of 2012, US carbon emissions from were down by almost eight percent from the same period last year, marking the lowest level for the quarter since 1992, the Energy Information Administration said.

The government agency said that the drop in emissions in the first quarter was due in part to the warmer winter, which decreased the need for heating during the season that traditionally sees the most .

The quarter saw the lowest level since 1983 in carbon emissions generated by coal, which is the dirtiest major source of energy. In 2011, coal accounted for 43 percent of US power generation, down from 51 percent in 2005.

"The decline in coal-related emissions is due mainly to utilities using less coal for as they burned more low-priced natural gas," said the report issued this month.

The supply of natural gas has soared due to a boom in , or "fracking" -- high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth to blast through rock and release gas and oil.

Advocates say that fracking has the potential to reduce US emissions and imports, but environmentalists have voiced concern that the process can contaminate . Governments including France and the US state of Vermont have banned fracking.

The US data showed that some 18 percent of US energy consumption in 2011 came from sources that do not emit any including nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar energy.

The Energy Information Administration warned that it was "difficult to draw conclusions" from data due to specific factors in 2011, including a large increase in hydropower generation.

But it said that other factors -- including the abundance of and improvements in fuel efficiency of vehicles -- could make a longer-term impact.

In a projection made in June, the agency estimated that US carbon emissions would be more than nine percent below 2005 levels in 2020 assuming no national regulations other than vehicle emission standards.

President Barack Obama promised ahead of the turbulent UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 that the United States would cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, in a shift from his climate-skeptic predecessor George W. Bush.

But proposals backed by Obama to restrict have died in Congress. Lawmakers of the rival Republican Party are staunchly opposed, arguing that climate efforts are too costly and voicing doubt about scientists' views on climate change.

International negotiations have also deadlocked. China, the world's largest emitter, has vowed to reduce the intensity of its emissions but rejects a binding treaty.

The planet has been experiencing extreme weather, droughts and record temperatures that many scientists link to climate change. The continental United States this year experienced a spring that was the warmest on record at 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit (2.9 Celsius) above the average from 1901 to 2000.

Explore further: Average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees

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User comments : 43

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Shootist
1.9 / 5 (23) Aug 17, 2012
It isn't a surprise to anyone who has thought about it. The economy is in shambles.

And it has nothing to do with "carbon (rip me off now, algore) trading".
NotParker
1.7 / 5 (28) Aug 17, 2012
"including a large increase in hydropower generation."

Translation: It rained a lot in 2011 where the dams are located.

"environmentalists have voiced concern that the process can contaminate water supplies"

Translation: Greenies hate everything except useless and grotesquely expensive wind power.
hyongx
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2012
How is it that
Official data showed that energy-related US carbon emissions fell by 2.4 percent in 2011 from the previous year.

and this is
US emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for climate change fell in 2011 and have slipped to a 20-year low this year


How is 2.4% down from 2010 a 20-year low? I would have thought emissions were growing at faster than that rate since 1992.
El_Nose
3 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2012
probably a 20 year low in amount of increased emmisions by percentage
SatanLover
1.4 / 5 (11) Aug 17, 2012
china a surprisingly high in carbon.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (13) Aug 17, 2012

How is 2.4% down from 2010 a 20-year low? I would have thought emissions were growing at faster than that rate since 1992.


The depression dropped emissions in 2008 to below 2000 levels.

http://www.eia.go...bon.html

And the switch from coal to gas gas been dramatic:

"In 2005, coal was used to produce about half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. The Energy Information Agency said that fell to 34 percent in March, the lowest level since it began keeping records nearly 40 years ago."

Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (15) Aug 17, 2012
"It isn't a surprise to anyone who has thought about it. The economy is in shambles." - ShooTard

You think it's bad now?

Should Romney be given an opportunity to set Public Policy, you will be looking back at these days as a golden era of American Economic Prosperity.

Romney = Economic Depression 2015.
Howhot
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 18, 2012
china a surprisingly high in carbon.

Yeah, I agree. All we did was to shift the CO2 burden to China.

Kidding of course. China has it's own issues. All we've done is lower USA CO2 production by a weak and puny 20% by burning less coal. Its a start, but we need to go all in on the CO2 reduction. USA need to step up and lead on a world salvation issue for a change.
Pkunk_
1.3 / 5 (15) Aug 18, 2012
china a surprisingly high in carbon.

Yeah, I agree. All we did was to shift the CO2 burden to China.

Kidding of course. China has it's own issues. All we've done is lower USA CO2 production by a weak and puny 20% by burning less coal. Its a start, but we need to go all in on the CO2 reduction. USA need to step up and lead on a worlds salvation issue for a change.

It's the beauty of the free market. Clean natural gas is available cheaper than coal thanks to the technology of fracking (with the greenies hate).
And the market corrects by burning less coal since it costs more. All you need for clean energy is for it to be cheaper. No incentives offered , No federal funding, and yet there is a huge drop is coal burning.
US should encourage more countries to follow their example by extracting cheap natural gas using fracking, and most importantly more nuclear power (since it is the only carbon neutral source).
kochevnik
3.2 / 5 (9) Aug 18, 2012
most importantly more nuclear power (since it is the only carbon neutral source).
Uh you claim by ommission that solar and wind and hydro aren't carbon neutral?
Pkunk_
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 18, 2012
most importantly more nuclear power (since it is the only carbon neutral source).
Uh you claim by ommission that solar and wind and hydro aren't carbon neutral?

Solar and Wind are unreliable, expensive and are not as clean as claimed when you consider the cost of making the panels and turbines . Also add to that then the cost of having backup thermal power idling until when the "wind don't blow".
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (9) Aug 18, 2012
The following short article has updated CO2 emissions data for the U.S. to the current year.

http://www.good.i...ear-low/

It shows that while the corporate transfer of American Jobs to second and third world nations is largely responsible for the slow rate of growth of American CO2 production, it has been the destruction of the U.S. economy by Conservative and Libertarian Economics that has actually reduced - not limited - America's production of CO2.

These figures do not include Coal and Gasoline exports from the U.S.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (11) Aug 18, 2012
And yet solar powers every living thing on earth.

"Solar and Wind are unreliable" - Pkunk

If nature can manage, why can't you?

Vendicar_Decarian
3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 18, 2012
As is the destruction of the U.S. economy.

"It's the beauty of the free market." = Pkunk

Good luck with your plan to have more of that.
SatanLover
2 / 5 (8) Aug 18, 2012
china a surprisingly high in carbon.

Yeah, I agree. All we did was to shift the CO2 burden to China.

Kidding of course. China has it's own issues. All we've done is lower USA CO2 production by a weak and puny 20% by burning less coal. Its a start, but we need to go all in on the CO2 reduction. USA need to step up and lead on a worlds salvation issue for a change.

meanwhile europe and asia are building more carbon spuwers. i am afraid we are doomed.
mrtea
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2012

Good luck with your plan to have more of that.


I'm rating you five because you were courteous.
ryggesogn2
1.2 / 5 (17) Aug 18, 2012
With more people on food stamps and welfare fewer people need energy to commute to work and there are fewer employers needing the energy to create wealth.
This is precisely the outcome intended by the watermelons.
3432682
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 18, 2012
The use of fossil fuels in the US has remained pretty flat since 1982 (EIA), with only a tiny temporary decline in the current "depression". US energy efficiency improves about 2% per year. Technology and natural gas (innovation in drilling) are doing what they've been doing for 200 years - making everything better rapidly.
NotParker
1.3 / 5 (13) Aug 18, 2012
most importantly more nuclear power (since it is the only carbon neutral source).
Uh you claim by ommission that solar and wind and hydro aren't carbon neutral?


1) Hydro produces CO2 and Methane as vegetation rots.

2) Wind produces more CO2 than natural gas when the need for backup generation is considered:

"Wind OCGT backup produces more 0.05 tonnes of CO2 per MWh than continuous CCGT."

http://bishophill...ers.html
SatanLover
1 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2012
With more people on food stamps and welfare fewer people need energy to commute to work and there are fewer employers needing the energy to create wealth.
This is precisely the outcome intended by the watermelons.

now we use more energy to transport food and people around. good job!

what we need is more local jobs and communities.
unknownorgin
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 19, 2012
I would like to see a report on climate change use real numbers like how much carbon did all the people and animals emit and the number of tons of carbon vegetation fires put out plus volcanos and exactly how much carbon was absorbed by plants in both the ocean and on land. I think I will wait a very long time to see such a report because many sources of carbon have not or can not be acuratly measured.
MikPetter
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
US Carbon Emissions are still 0.2 billion tons above 1990 levels at 5.2 Billion metric tons / year, which is still 16% of the world total. Time will tell if these drops in emissions are sustained or overtaken due to economic growth or price fluctuations in the energy market.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (5) Aug 19, 2012
Through the 70's and 80's Libertarians like RyggTard pushed the offshoring of American jobs to third world nations.

Their argument was in large part that sending manufacturing jobs to India and China would increase corporate profits that would then be used to create more jobs in America. Higher quality jobs in the IT sector that paid better. The result they insisted would be a vastly improved quality of life for Americans.

"With more people on food stamps and welfare fewer people need energy to commute to work..." - RyggTard

As always... the predictions of Libertarian Economists and ideologues, failed to be realized, and now America is bankrupt in large part because of those Libertarian policies.

Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
Which means that they must still be reduced by 80 to 90 percent.

"US Carbon Emissions are still 0.2 billion tons above 1990 levels" - Mik
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 19, 2012
ParkerTard proclaims half truths with his every breath.

No vegetation rots when a river like the Niagra is used for hydroelectric generation.

The only time this occurs is when large areas of land are flooded, and it only occurs once due to the initial flooding.

"Hydro produces CO2 and Methane as vegetation rots." - ParkerTard

Poor, mentally diseased ParkerTard.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 19, 2012
Here ParkerTard insists that OCGT backup power is needed to compliment wind power and then asserts that because of this, Wind produces more CO2 than Gas turbines.

Even when not required OCGT turbines must be kept spinning, using fuel and producing CO2 for no power.

"Wind produces more CO2 than natural gas when the need for backup generation is considered" - ParkerTard

Those who are not suffering from his mental disease will
question his absurd claim that instant backup power is required.

His mental disease is in it's terminal phase.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) Aug 19, 2012

The only time this occurs is when large areas of land are flooded, and it only occurs once due to the initial flooding.


"large amounts of carbon tied up in trees and other plants are released when the reservoir is initially flooded and the plants rot. Then after this first pulse of decay, plant matter settling on the reservoir's bottom decomposes without oxygen, resulting in a build-up of dissolved methane. This is released into the atmosphere when water passes through the dam's turbines."

NotParker
1 / 5 (9) Aug 19, 2012

Those who are not suffering from his mental disease will
question his absurd claim that instant backup power is required.


You may think blackouts and brownouts are acceptable. They are not.

http://junkscienc...numbers/
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
Confirming what I claimed earlier.

"large amounts of carbon tied up in trees and other plants are released when the reservoir is initially flooded and the plants rot." - ParkerTard

Thanx Tard Boy...
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 19, 2012
None of the systems that I rely upon are susceptible to momentary blackouts or brownouts.

If you can't manage to live a few seconds without electric power then the failure is yours.

If you can't figure out how to do so then your mental disease is even more acute than I thought.

"You may think blackouts and brownouts are acceptable. They are not." - ParkerTard
kochevnik
3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 19, 2012
Solar and Wind are unreliable, expensive and are not as clean as claimed when you consider the cost of making the panels and turbines . Also add to that then the cost of having backup thermal power idling until when the "wind don't blow".
Indeed the storage solution is called "hydraulic pumping." Pollution exists only because firms haven't yet devised creative solutions for recycling the mining pilings. The energy put into manufacturing a windmill is returned forty times! Thus the input energy is negligible. Wind, solar and hydro comprise a complete energy solution.

Nuclear uses five to ten times more water than any other power generation method. In drought stricken USA it is the worst approach.
krundoloss
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 20, 2012
None of the systems that I rely upon are susceptible to momentary blackouts or brownouts.

If you can't manage to live a few seconds without electric power then the failure is yours.

If you can't figure out how to do so then your mental disease is even more acute than I thought.

"You may think blackouts and brownouts are acceptable. They are not." - ParkerTard


Dude, losing power is very bad. What about all the food in your fridge and freezer. 8 hours or so without power and its time to cook it or toss it. No system should be planned to have inadequate output, so the assumption that backup sources are needed for intermittant sources is correct. Or would you like to be in the middle of surgery during one of these "acceptable" blackouts.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2012
Sorry Charlie, but you are talking about a long duration power outage. ParkerTard is talking about keeping coal fired plants and gas fired boilers running as stand by so that they can be switched to generating mode within a few seconds of a power outage.

If you are an idiot like ParkerTard, and intend to use that kind of backup system then you are too stupid to be permitted to complain about the lack of efficiency.

"What about all the food in your fridge and freezer. 8 hours or so without power and its time to cook it or toss it." - Krundoloss

8 hours is a different animal. Virtually any backup method can be switched in long before 8 hours is up.

Of course if your home is solar powered, then an 8 hour power failure on your block is entirely of no consequence to you.

Those with electric cars will just power their refrigerator via their car battery.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2012
Dude... All hospitals have massive backup generators in their basement for just such an emergency.

"Or would you like to be in the middle of surgery during one of these "acceptable" blackouts." - Krundoloss

You did know that didn't you?
NotParker
1 / 5 (8) Aug 21, 2012
Sorry Charlie, but you are talking about a long duration power outage. ParkerTard is talking about keeping coal fired plants and gas fired boilers running as stand by so that they can be switched to generating mode within a few seconds of a power outage.


Actually they have to work even quicker than a few seconds or the whole grid goes down as it did in India.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2012
God invented circuit breakers for a reason. The failure of their application to the American Grid is just another American failure.

"Actually they have to work even quicker than a few seconds or the whole grid goes down as it did in India." = ParkerTard
NotParker
1 / 5 (8) Aug 21, 2012
God invented circuit breakers for a reason. The failure of their application to the American Grid is just another American failure.

"Actually they have to work even quicker than a few seconds or the whole grid goes down as it did in India." = ParkerTard


You are very ignorant about how the grid works. (And everything else)
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 21, 2012
Says the fool who presumes that the haphazard grid his failed nation now employs must be the as unstable in the future as it is today.

"You are very ignorant about how the grid works." - ParkerTard

ParkerTard's mental disease is in it's terminal phase.
NotParker
1 / 5 (7) Aug 22, 2012
Says the fool who presumes that the haphazard grid his failed nation now employs ...


I'm not from Germany, but their grid is in trouble.

And I'm not from California and they just had a close call.

etc etc

Wind is destabilizing grids all over the world.
Howhot
5 / 5 (3) Aug 24, 2012
Wind is destabilizing grids all over the world.

Lol. It's so funny because its such a load of crap.

If it was true, that is an infrastructure problem that some electric service providers has not corrected. It's certainly not wind causing the problem. Wind alone could power ALL of the USA's energy needs 40 times over.

Also, the USA is #1 in wind energy usage already.

http://en.wikiped...d_energy

Wind energy is really good stuff and it doesn't toxify the ground, lakes, and streams with mercury like coal does. Coal is just plain nasty an needs to stay in the ground.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) Aug 24, 2012

Wind energy is really good stuff and it doesn't toxify the ground, lakes, and streams with mercury like coal does. Coal is just plain nasty an needs to stay in the ground.


But you need coal to back up the wind when it doesn't blow.

"Argonne National Laboratory, under the stewardship of the Department of Energy, just released a study that found wind energy does not reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation as much as expected due to the need to ramp up fossil fuel plants when the wind is not blowing. It takes more energy and thus more carbon dioxide emissions to ramp a coal plant up and down than if the same coal plant is operated at a continuous, efficient base-load level. "

http://www.instit...b-study/
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) Aug 24, 2012
"Wind capacity does not displace actual fossil fuel plants—

it displaces the generation from the back-up plants when the wind is blowing. When the wind is not blowing, the back-up plants are needed to supply the electricity needed to meet demand.

Thus, the true cost of wind power should include the cost of building plants to back up the power when the wind dies down.

Ratepayers are actually paying twice–once for the wind turbines and secondly for the capacity to back them up.

It would be cheaper for ratepayers to build new plants to replace older plants given the small, marginal reductions in carbon dioxide that are obtained from wind power."
SatanLover
1 / 5 (4) Aug 25, 2012
Nuclear is a good idea for space travel, but not a good idea for powering homes on earth.

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