Clean energy policies may be under attack by the right wing in the US, but it looks like there is still good energy news to be had: apparently, coal electricity production in the United States has dropped to its lowest amount in more than 30 years. The Energy Information Administration has found that this year, coal accounted for only 46 percent of our power, a 6 percent drop from 2008. This positive news comes just a few weeks after New York City Mayor Bloomberg pledged $50 million to help the Sierra Club shut down coal plants. But, like most news, there are plenty of counterpoints to burst our happy anti-coal bubble.
While it is no doubt worth cheering the fact that coal electricity production is on the decline, the news isn’t quite as rosy as we would like to think. The EIA says that the decrease in coal electricity can be contributed to an increase in generation by other energy sources. And while we would love to think this means solar, water, and wind, the EIA specifies that natural gas is the source that has seen the largest increase.
Even more disheartening, the EIA estimates that coal electricity production will actually increase 25 percent over the next twenty years if we continue on this same energy path. To be frank, this is unsurprising given the new crusade to shut down nuclear plants and our government’s lack of initiative on renewable energy projects. Plus, there are still plenty of new coal developments underway. In fact, the largest coal terminal in North America is currently being planned for Washington. Oy.
But if we take strong action to speed the development of clean energy projects, we can obviously reverse this trend toward more fossil fuel electricity. Smart, environmentally inclined people (like you!) know that the fastest way for us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming is to stop using fossil fuels.