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Environment

Coal Use, CO2 Emissions Drop …

by Jeff Johnson
April 15, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 15

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation in 2012 were the lowest since 1994, according to a report released last week by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. The drop was mostly because of the replacement of coal by natural gas as a power plant fuel. The change stems from the recent flood of abundant, cheap natural gas. Methane, the main component of natural gas, generates about half of the CO2 emissions of coal per unit of energy output when burned as a power plant fuel. When leaked to the environment, however, methane is at least 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2.

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