That’s according to the US Energy Information Administration, which says that the last time this happened was 1972. The agency says that carbon emissions from natural gas are expected to 10 percent greater than those from coal in its short-term energy outlook. It adds that natural gas will provide about 34 percent of the fuel used to generate electricity while coal will provide 30 percent, all in 2016. In 2015, they were about equal.
Natural gas has about half the carbon intensity as does coal, which is why carries more favor with the Obama administration. When you add in there that there is an abundance of unconventional gas and that is it is also cheap at less than $3 per million Btus, it has gained market share — at coal’s expense.
“Annual carbon intensity rates in the United States have generally been decreasing since 2005. The U.S. total carbon intensity rate reflects the relative consumption of fuels and those fuels’ relative carbon intensities,” the agency says.
“Another contributing factor to lower carbon intensity is increased consumption of fuels that produce no carbon dioxide, such as nuclear-powered electricity and renewable energy. As these fuels make up a larger share of U.S. energy consumption, the U.S. average carbon intensity declines,” it adds.