U.S greenhouse gas emissions decline as utilities close coal-fired power plants

In 2019, coal-fired power plants declined to the lowest level since 1975


In 2019, U.S. emissions dropped by an estimated 2 percent due to the continuing decline of coal-fired power plants across the country.

This somewhat bold statement is backed by analysis produced by the Rhodium Group—a data research firm that uses economic data analytics and policy insight to help decision-makers in both the public and private sectors understand global trends.



Other data from the U.S. federal government and analysis by Thomson Reuters conclude that coal-fired power plant shutdowns in the U.S. were at the second-fastest pace on record in 2019.

According to the data, power companies retired or converted roughly 15,100 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired electricity generation, enough to power about 15 million homes.

That move was second only to the record 19,300 MW shut in 2015 during President Barack Obama’s administration.

The news underscores the limitations of Trump’s pro-fossil fuel policies, which have seen environmental regulations rolled back and attempts to keep coal plants open.

Experts say the decline was driven by the advent of cheaper natural gas and growth in renewable energy.

Coal-fired power generation dropped by 18 percent to its lowest level since 1975 but emissions from other sectors like buildings and industry went up.

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