According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with coal consumption dropped dramatically during 2015. EIA’s numbers indicate that coal emissions fell by 231 million metric tons in 2015, with nearly every state experiencing a decline. EIA attributes much of this decrease to changes in the electric power sector—roughly 90% of coal is consumed in the electric power sector—particularly reduced generation from existing coal-fired generating units in response to competition from cheap natural gas. At the same time, however, energy-sector related CO2 emissions from natural gas rose in 2015, surpassing those of coal for the first time ever. According to EIA, rising energy-related CO2 emissions may be more indicative of emissions patterns in the future: EIA expects energy-related CO2 emissions will increase in 2018 for all fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—collectively by 111 million metric tons.
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