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Power Sector CO2 Emissions Hit 27-Year Low as Natural Gas Use Surges

According to a report released today by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), monthly power sector carbon emissions reached a 27-year low in April of 2015.  In that same month, natural gas was, for the first time, the leading source of American electricity. As the EIA puts it:

“The electric power sector emitted 128 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMmt CO2) in April 2015, the lowest for any month since April 1988…Comparing April 1988 to April 2015 (27 years), natural gas consumption in the sector more than tripled.” (emphasis added)

EIA chart

This should come as no surprise, as natural gas has played a critical role in cutting US carbon emissions.  In an interview published just last week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy touted hydraulic fracturing and domestically-produced natural gas as important tools in American efforts to reduce both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions:

“Hydrofracking has certainly changed the energy dynamic considerably. You are absolutely right, it has created an opportunity for a shift…into natural gas, and that shift has been enormously beneficial from a clean air perspective, as well as from a climate perspective.”

As Dan Whitten, Senior Director of Communications and Media Affairs for America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) explained:

“It’s telling that in April 2015 – the month the United States generated more electricity from natural gas than from any other fuel source – the United States also emitted less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than at any time since 1988. That’s no coincidence. And that’s why we think the White House was disingenuous about the role natural gas will play in the Clean Power Plan.

We have a high degree of confidence that natural gas will play a significant and growing role in electricity markets. It is clean, affordable and abundant – all reasons why states will plan a robust role for this American fuel when they begin making choices about what power source to use. Today’s data from the Department of Energy shows how natural gas is already making a huge difference and we fully expect that to continue.”

As the EIA’s report clearly shows, these environmental benefits are due in large part to an American abundance of safely produced, clean-burning natural gas.

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