Energy-related carbon dioxide pollution grew by 2% last year after declining several years in a row, a government report said Monday. The increase was largely due to a small boost in coal consumption by the electric power industry, according to the study by the US Energy Information Administration.
American cars and factories spewed 5.38 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, up from 5.27 billion in 2012, the report said. Carbon dioxide is the chief man-made global warming gas.
Coal, long the dominant source for US electricity, has regained some market share in recent months as natural gas prices have increased following historic lows in 2012. Coal generated about 39% of the nation's electricity in October, compared with 28% for natural gas, the EIA said. Coal supplied about 37% of US electricity in 2012, with natural gas at 30%.
Even with the uptick, overall US carbon emissions remained 10% below 2005 levels, more than half the reduction needed to achieve President Barack Obama's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.