U.S. carbon emissions lowest since 1992
A shift away from coal and reduced gasoline demand coupled with a mild winter led to an 8 percent drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions during the first quarter of 2012, reports the Energy Information Administration. Emissions between January and March 2012 were the lowest since 1992.
Emissions from coal were down 18% to 387 million metric tons, the lowest for any quarter since April-June 1986. Low natural gas prices have led more utilities burn less coal for electricity generation. Coal is used mostly for electricity.
Coal accounted for 29 percent of total emissions for the quarter.
Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the United States amounted to 5,481 tons in 2011. Roughly 40 percent came from electricity generation, 34 percent from transportation, and 27 percent from residential, commercial, and industrial activities, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The United States is the second largest CO2 emitter after China. U.S. emissions peaked in 2007 at 6,022 tons.