For the first time in four decades, power plants are no longer America’s top air polluter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is the transport sector, which includes not only cars but also aircraft and ships.
Federal researchers explained that the latest shift was not caused by a spike in the emissions from transportation. Since the early 2000s, the United States has seen transportation air pollution hit a plateau. The reversal is mainly due to a major cleanup of the nation’s electric grid.
What’s more, electricity production and use haven’t changed in the last decade, but the shift in emission output is mainly due to cleaner sources of energy as the industry has slowly stepped away from fossil fuels and embraced green energy.
Power Plants No Longer Using Coal for Energy Production
Coal-generated energy output has dropped by more than a third since 2006, the EIA report shows. The production of natural gas jumped 60% over the same time period. Solar and wind power are also increasingly popular in the U.S. electricity production.
Lowering greenhouse gas emissions does not only benefit the planet, it also helps reduce the rates of respiratory diseases, cancers, and heart conditions triggered by air pollution in the general population.
- Nevertheless, the transportation sector will not continue to wear the crown of the country’s top pollutant for too much time.
- Motor vehicles have become increasingly energy efficient, while electric and hybrid vehicles are gaining more and more steam.
The only roadblocks are Americans’ longtime love for pickups, SUVs, and crossovers and the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the new fuel-efficiency standards which are slated to take effect in three years’ time.
Electric cars could help reduce pollution generated by the transportation sector too as the price of electric vehicles is on the way to becoming cheaper than that of regular cars by the mid-2020s.
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