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article imageTrump takes credit for drop in greenhouse gas emissions in 2017

By Karen Graham     Oct 19, 2018 in Environment
Washington - There's good news for the environment, the EPA announced on Monday. U.S. emissions of global warming greenhouse gases fell 2.7 percent in 2017 — despite Trump's efforts to revive the coal industry.
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says U.S. production of heat-trapping gases was 2.7 percent lower in 2017 than the previous year, independent analysts say that we will likely fall short of meeting our global climate goals as set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.
"The trends that are driving the emission reductions that we saw in 2017 were baked in several years before," said Kate Larsen, who monitors greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. "We can't rely on those trends continuing forever."
The EPA is trying to say that cleaner power generation offset the increase in vehicle emissions in 2017, but the agency is not giving people the real picture in that regard.
The reductions in GHG emissions came primarily from power plants, with emissions falling 4.5 percent due to the switch by utilities to cheap natural gas and renewable energy sources. Coal's share of electricity production fell to just 30 percent. And even while there was a reduction in GHG emissions overall, there was an increase in emissions from transportation due to having more cars on the road.
Xcel Energy s High Bridge Generating Station is a natural gas plant that s helping us reduce our car...
Xcel Energy's High Bridge Generating Station is a natural gas plant that's helping us reduce our carbon emissions.
Xcel Energy
Trump administration takes all the credit
The EPA's acting administrator Andrew Wheeler - a former coal lobbyist and, like Trump, a climate denier - put all the praise on the presidents "regulatory reform agenda." (Actually, that's a bit of "fake news" meant for his voter base).
“While many around the world are talking about reducing greenhouse gases, the U.S. continues to deliver, and today’s report is further evidence of our action-oriented approach,” Wheeler said in a news release, according to Bloomberg.
In a statement announcing the new findings, Wheeler said: "Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources. These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government. The Trump Administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions."
Of course, anyone with a lick of sense knows it was the switch to cheap and plentiful natural gas that helped in reducing GHG's and led to the demise of coal as a fuel in power plants.
The Comanche Generating Station  located just east of Pueblo  Colorado. The plant is owned by Xcel E...
The Comanche Generating Station, located just east of Pueblo, Colorado. The plant is owned by Xcel Energy. Its three units are coal-fired.
Jeffrey Beall (CC BY 3.0)
And most people can see right through the federal government's statements, too. “This is both political plagiarism and vandalism,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Trump’s EPA appointees are claiming credit for their predecessors’ work and trying to destroy it at the same time.”
“It’s ridiculous and insulting that the very person currently shredding the Obama-era policies responsible for the greenhouse gas reductions is now trying to hoodwink the American people into believing his anti-environmental policies are responsible for the reductions,” said Liz Perera, director of climate policy for the Sierra Club.
Our cup is half-full - not half-empty
But the biggest takeaway from the EPA's report is this - There is a reason for optimism as the country continues to embrace renewables and a cleaner environment, despite the rollbacks of Obama-era regulations.
The production of renewable energy has soared by over 20 percent from 2016 to 2017, accounting for 18 percent of the total energy production in the U.S., including wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Renewable energy use has doubled since 2008. Overall energy use across the U.S. also declined by 0.2 percent in 2017, an amazing figure, seeing as the economy is expanding.
More about Epa, Greenhouse gas emissions, coal plants, vehicle emissions, trump deregulation
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