In 2016, Power Plants Used 40% Less Coal Than 2010's Prediction

Takeaway: while there is no guarantee that power plants will continue to be below expectations of coal use in the coming years, these data should give us hope that future progress could be greater than mainstream predictions.

Projected vs. Actual Electricity from Coal (Trillion kWh)

Electricity from coal is 40% lower in 2016 than the DOE thought it would be based on 2010 projections.

Study: Coal Production and Burning Results In At Least $150 Billion in Non-Climate Damages Each Year

Takeaway: even coal's non-climate damages is reason significant action to reduce coal consumption.
  • A 2010 study finds that between $150 and $300 billion in annual negative impacts result from air and water pollution in Kentucky, West Virginia, and many other states.

  • These costs are not currently factored into the price of electricity from coalif they were, electricity prices would roughly double.

  • The study indicates that these damages are conservative, as many other pollution sources were left out of the analysis.

For Most Americans, Electric Vehicles Pollute Less Than the Most-Efficient Gasoline-Powered Car

Takeaway: while it may be the case that hybrids are better for the climate than electric cars in some places today, electric cars have more potential than hybrids to reduce emissions from oil in the long run.
  • A 2015 report measured that two-thirds of Americans live in regions (including California, Texas, Florida, New York, New England, and the entire Northwest) where driving an electric vehicle (EV) produces fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than the most efficient gas-powered vehicle.

  • Even in regions where electricity used to charge EVs is the dirtiest, an EV pollutes 21% less than the average new gasoline-powered vehicle.

  • If the U.S. moved to a grid supplied by 80% renewable energy, an EV would emit roughly 90% less GHG pollution than the current average new gasoline-powered vehicle.

EPA Says Clean Power Plan Will Reduce Power Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 32%. We've Already Reduced Them by 21%.

Takeaway: the majority of emissions reductions expected by 2030, relative to 2005, are expected to happen regardless of whether the Clean Power Plan exists.
  • Relative to the Clean Power Plan's greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals for power plants in 2030 (32% below 2005 levels), the U.S. is already two-thirds of the way there (21% below 2005 levels).

  • Without the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Department of Energy projects power plant GHG emissions will stay roughly constant, at 20% below 2005 levels in 2030.

  • Thus, the CPP is the difference between emissions staying constant and declining slightly.