Greenhouse gas emissions dropped nearly 3 percent in Trump’s first year
Harmful greenhouses gases that largely contribute to climate change decreased during President Trump’s first year in office, according to new a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report released Wednesday.
U.S. emissions dropped by 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, continuing a downward trend that’s been apparent since 2007, according to data collected through the agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
The report additionally found that emissions from larger power plants dropped 4.5 percent since 2016.
Experts have largely attributed the new trend to the cheaper price of natural gas, which is cleaner when burned than traditional coal and emits less carbon. Coal is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally.
In 2017, coal made up 14 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Coal consumption in the U.S., the top consumer of the energy source, peaked in 2007 and has declined since. Natural gas became the main source of energy use in the U.S. in 2016.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler thanked President Trump’s policies for the dive in emissions.
“Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources,” Wheeler said in a statement.
“The Trump Administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions. While many around the world are talking about reducing greenhouse gases, the U.S. continues to deliver, and today’s report is further evidence of our action-oriented approach.”
In September a separate report by the EIA found that carbon emissions from energy sources dropped nearly 1 percent overall, the lowest emissions levels had been in the U.S. since 1993.
But the agency projects that in 2018, carbon emissions from transportation, power plants, homes and businesses could climb more than 2 percent due to economic growth and rising gas prices.
The news comes as the White House released Wednesday its regulatory agenda that included eliminating a total of 176 regulations last year. Of those regulation cuts undertaken and proposed a number refer to environmental protections, including administration plans to roll back regulations on methane, vehicle and power plant emissions.
Critics believe the regulatory cuts, when formally implemented, will cause emissions levels to rise once again. They worry that the Trump administration’s desire to prop up failing coal companies, paired with Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, will eventually ease any national gains made in emissions cuts.