Greenhouse gas emissions up, despite Obama plans

The U.S. is releasing more of the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide, even as the Obama administration is embarking on new plans to control the pollutant.

Data from the Energy Department released on Friday showed that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide — the primary greenhouse gas caused by humans — had ticked up in the first six months of 2014, compared to previous years.

The 2.7 percent rise over 2013 builds on an increase first seen last year, which saw more power plants and other sources spewing carbon into the atmosphere than 2012. Emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas were 6 percent higher in the first half of this year than in the same period in 2012.

That’s despite a more general recent trend of decreasing emissions in recent years.

Earlier this week, President Obama had personally praised U.S. progress in cutting emissions of the greenhouse gas. Rising carbon in the atmosphere causes climate change.

“We know what we have to do to avoid irreparable harm. We have to cut carbon pollution in our own countries to prevent the worst effects of climate change,” he said at a United Nations summit on climate change.

“Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth,” he added. “But we have to do more.”

The administration has proposed rules to limit carbon emissions from both existing and future power plants. Critics have revolted, however, claiming that the rules amount to a “war on coal” and will lead to higher energy prices and fewer U.S. jobs.

Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyPruitt granted extension to file financial disclosure form Pruitt's 24/7 security requested over fears of Trump policy backlash EPA documents detail threats against Pruitt MORE said this week that the agency would make changes to the more recent proposal on existing power plants before it is enacted.

"My goal is to make sure many of the states stand up as early as possible and say I can make this work for me, and my economy, and my energy sector," she said.

The U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon. China is No. 1.