EPA: Greenhouse gas emissions fell during recession

The economic recession helped prompt a decrease in 2009 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions compared to the prior year, according to a draft Environmental Protection Agency report released Wednesday.

“While total U.S. emissions have increased by 7.4 percent from 1990 to 2009, emissions decreased from 2008 to 2009 by 6.0 percent,” states the latest annual inventory of U.S. emissions.

“This decrease was primarily due to (1) a decrease in economic output resulting in a decrease in energy consumption across all sectors; and (2) a decrease in the carbon intensity of fuels used to generate electricity due to fuel switching as the price of coal increased, and the price of natural gas decreased significantly. Since 1990, U.S. emissions have increased at an average annual rate of 0.4%,” the report adds.

The annual report is a very granular look at sector-by-sector emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, from the big sources (power generation and transportation) to various types of manufacturing to, for instance, rice cultivation.