Home Technology Coal bucks 15-year decline in US with 22% increase as natural gas prices rise

Coal bucks 15-year decline in US with 22% increase as natural gas prices rise

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Enlarge / Heavy equipment moves coal into piles at PacifiCorp’s Hunter coal-fired power plant outside of Castle Dale, Utah. (credit: GEORGE FREY / AFP)

The US is expected to burn 22 percent more coal than last year, marking the first annual increase in the use of the polluting fossil fuel since 2014, the Energy Information Administration said.

“The US electric power sector has been generating more electricity from coal-fired power plants this year as a result of significantly higher natural gas prices and relatively stable coal prices,” the government agency said. Coal is selling for record prices, though, and economists say that skyrocketing energy costs are fueling inflation.

President Joe Biden has set a target of reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The news is a setback for those plans, but the EIA predicts that the bump in coal use will be transitory, with 2022 consumption down 5 percent from this year.

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