Energy & Environment

EPA: Carbon dioxide from power plants rose last year

Carbon dioxide emissions from power plants rose slightly last year while overall electricity production grew by a larger factor, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Wednesday.

As part of its required annual reporting of emissions, the EPA said carbon dioxide output grew 0.6 percent in 2018 over the previous year, to 1.93 billion tons, while electricity generated grew 5 percent, to 23.4 quadrillion British thermal units.

At the same time, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions from the power sector fell, the EPA said, by 4 percent and 6 percent respectively.

The EPA celebrated the decreases.

"These data show that America is enjoying ever cleaner air as our economy grows, and the U.S. continues as a global leader in clean air progress," Bill Wehrum, the EPA's associate administrator for air, said in a statement.

"Through state and federal fulfillment of the Clean Air Act, and advances by the power sector, we've seen significant reductions in key pollutants while electricity generation has increased."

The figures come as the EPA works to roll back numerous climate change and air pollution policies from previous administrations, including the Clean Power Plan and emissions rules for cars.

The power sector's carbon dioxide increase is small in comparison to the economy as a whole. The Rhodium Group estimated in January that economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions grew 3.4 percent in 2018 over the previous year.

Electricity generation is tied with transportation as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, at 28 percent, according to the EPA.

But generation emissions have been on a downward trend as a portion of the whole, and transportation has been increasing.

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