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  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    U.S. Emissions Trending Down This Decade

    U.S. Power Plant Emissions Down 45% Since 2010

    Lucas Davis, December 10, 2018 (U.C. Berkeley Hass Energy Institute)

    “…[T]he U.S. electric sector in 2010 was very different. Nearly twice as much power came from coal as from natural gas…U.S. power plants emitted 15 billion pounds of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and small particulates…Nitrogen oxides (NOx), small particulates (PM2.5), and carbon dioxide (CO2) are all way down [according to a new report]. But the decrease for sulfur dioxide (SO2) is stunning – down 75% since 2010. These pollutant reductions mean reduced asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, and a whole host of other significant benefits…[Economic] damages from the U.S. power sector have decreased since 2010 from $245 billion to $133 billion (in real 2014 dollars)…[That is a 46% decline, with 88% from reducing sulfur]…

    …[T]he aggregate gains are almost entirely due to lower damages from coal. Burning coal is about 18 times worse than burning natural gas in terms of local pollutants…[The damage reductions fall] into three categories…About 40% from the shift to cleaner plants, e.g., coal to natural gas…About 40% from emissions reductions at existing plants, e.g. scrubbers..About 20% from less fossil fuel generation overall, e.g. more renewables…[The report does not] causally disentangle how much of this transformation was due to cheap natural gas, versus policies like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or Renewable Portfolio Standards…[And damages] from the U.S. power sector are still enormous and, in virtually all cases we have still failed to put a “price” on emissions. Moreover, carbon dioxide emissions have not declined nearly as much…” click here for more


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