As Demand For Coal Drops, Carbon Emissions Also Fall

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During the first three months of 2012, fewer carbon emissions were generated as a result of power use, hovering around numbers from 20 years ago. When compared with the beginning of 2011, emission levels were seven percent less than they were just 12 months ago, indicating a substantial one-year difference.

Three Key Factors

The US Energy Information Administration, or EIA, looked into the situation and determined that a warmer than average winter was one of the reasons for the change in emissions. According to the report, many families did not use as much power as they did just a year before, and they traveled less; gasoline numbers were also down. Coal, which contains a lot of carbon and has been used heavily in the past, has a new rival in natural gas. The latter energy source is becoming more and more popular, and it is better for the environment than coal. Finally, solar and wind power are being used more often, as machines like small wind turbine kits are becoming increasingly common across the United States.

Less Coal Means Fewer Emissions

Emissions are usually the greatest during the first quarter of the year because many people are using additional energy to keep themselves warm in the winter. Because it was not as cold this year, and because gas was expensive, coal was not needed as often as it has been in the past. Coal emissions fell dramatically, and the United States posted numbers that they haven’t seen since the early 1980s.

The vast majority of the coal in this country is meant to help create power. However, it is needed less and less to provide energy, primarily because natural gas is becoming cheaper. There is also a greater awareness of just how negatively coal is affecting the environment. As a result, the United States used less coal to generate energy in the spring of 2012 than it has at any point in nearly 40 years.

Turning Toward The Future

As we move away from using coal, there will be a few changes in the energy industry over the next few years. More than 150 coal plants are scheduled to close, and that number will only rise as we continue forward. In part, this is due to the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency is set to release new regulations regarding how much mercury and carbon can be released into the atmosphere. Run-down plants that are particularly harmful to the environment will be the first ones that are shut down. Embracing clean energy sources is truly the way to a sustainable earth in the future.

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