A recent report from the Energy Information Administration projects that for the first time in 44 years, CO2 emissions from the burning of natural gas to generate electricity will exceed that emitted by coal-fired generation. Emissions were roughly equal in 2015 when coal still exceeded natural gas as a generation fuel, but coal’s production of electricity has slipped from 33 percent to 30 percent this year, while natural gas has increased from 33 percent to 34 percent.
The shift has been driven by market economics, increased generation from zero emission sources, and preparation for compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
Meanwhile the historic shift has not gone unnoticed by the environmental community. Published reports quote Lena Moffitt, director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, saying that the U.S. can’t afford increased reliance on natural gas for power generation.
Moffitt is supporting a “climate test” on approvals for pipelines and other natural gas projects by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as recommended by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality to support the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.