After several years of shrinking pollution, carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. climbed 2% last year due to a slight bump in coal consumption, according to a report.
Some 5.38 billion tons of carbon dioxide were released into the air in 2013, up from 5.27 billion tons emitted in 2012, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Rising natural gas prices have boosted the use of coal in the last year to generate electricity. In October, for example, the sooty material was the source of 39% of the country's electricity, while natural gas contributed 28%. In 2012, coal was the source of 37% of the nation's electricity while natural gas accounted for 30%.
Emissions in 2013 are still more than 10% below 2005 pollution levels, the report noted. That means the U.S. is well on its way to reaching President Obama's goal of slashing carbon emissions 17% by 2020.
The energy agency said that weak economic growth in recent years dampened energy demand and therefore helped push down emissions. Continuing energy efficiency and an extensive supply of affordable natural gas has also shifted the U.S. energy landscape, the report said.
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