By SETH BORENSTEIN of Associated
Press October 21, 2013 6:03 PM on Yahoo
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United
States cut its energy-related carbon dioxide pollution by 3.8
percent last year, the second biggest drop since 1990, the
Department of Energy said Monday.
The only recent year with a bigger percentage drop was in 2009,
when America was in a large recession. American cars and factories
spewed 5.83 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, down from 6.06
billion in 2011. It is the lowest level for U.S. emissions since
1994. Carbon dioxide is the chief man-made global warming gas.
Energy Department economist Perry Lindstrom said carbon
pollution reduction is due to warm winter weather, more efficient
cars because of new mileage requirements and an ongoing shift from
coal-power to natural gas to produce electricity.
The coal shift is a big factor as is a sluggish economic
recovery, said Jay Apt, director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity
Industry Center. He said in 1994 coal provided 52 percent of the
U.S. power and now it is down to 37 percent. Burning coal produces
far more carbon dioxide than burning natural gas.
Some past cuts in carbon pollution were mostly due to economic
factors, such as the 7.1 percent drop in 2009, Lindstrom said. But
this drop happened while the U.S. economy was growing 2.8 percent,
as reflected by the gross domestic product, and its energy use was
dropping by more than 2 percent.
Economists measure energy efficiency and how real reductions are
in carbon pollution, by calculating...