U.S. CO2 Levels Down as Power Producers Move from Coal to Natural Gas

U.S. CO2 Levels Down as Power Producers Move from Coal to Natural Gas

The U.S. Energy Information Agency said in a recently released report that total U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of 2012 fell to 1992 levels. Contributing factors include conservation efforts, the slow economy, an uptick in renewable energy use, but mainly the drop in the price of natural gas.

Natural gas wholesale prices have dropped from $7-$8 per unit to less than $3 in recent years thanks to the spike in shale gas drilling in the Northeast, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. One big surprise: the speed with which electric utilities have abandoned coal. In 2005, coal generated about 50 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. That percentage dropped to 34 percent in March, the lowest level in 40 years. However, environmentalists say that this drop in carbon dioxide emissions is linked to increased groundwater pollution caused by the shale gas drilling or fracking. (Associated Press; the Houston Chronicle)


  • A big deepwater drilling rig costs $500,000 a day to rent, and can take three months to drill a complicated well. (The Economist)
  • By 2050, 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. (Brookings Institution, Energybiz.com)
  • Spending on smart city technologies – smart energy grids, smart street lights, smart traffic light systems, etc. – will increase from $8.1 billion in 2010 to $39.5 billion in 2016. (ABI Research, Energybiz.com)
  • U.S. Dept. of Defense is investing $3 billion in renewable energy in 2013 and opening up 16 million acres of its land for renewable energy development. (S&CElectric Co.)
  • It currently takes 7 gallons of fuel to transport 1 gallon to U.S. forces through supply lines. (S&CElectric Co.)

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