Vox: Power Plants Are No Longer America's Biggest Climate Problem

Here's a milestone worth mulling over: For the first time since 1979, America’s cars, trucks, and airplanes emit more carbon dioxide than its power plants do.

The basic story is that the United States has made remarkable progress in cleaning up its electricity sector since 2005. Whenever you see exciting headlines about renewable energy growth or the fall in U.S. emissions, those pieces are usually talking about electric power.

But power plants account for only about one-third of America’s CO2 emissions. Transportation, another third (and now the biggest source), remains much tougher to address. In fact, since 2013, transport emissions have been creeping upward again.

UPI: U.S. Coal Production Lowest Since 1980s

The amount of coal produced in the United States is the lowest it's been since the early 1980s as overall demand falters, the government said.

"Coal production has declined because of increasingly challenging market conditions for coal producers," a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

Industrial and utility sectors are drawing more heavily on natural gas, while exports in the form of liquefied natural gas are drawing on domestic supplies. The EIA's analysis finds that, through 2040, total U.S. production from shale gas and tight oil more than doubles to 29 trillion cubic feet, accounting for about 69 percent of total output of natural gas in the country.

Bloomberg: Renewables Will Replace Gas as Top U.S. Power Source in 2031

Renewables will overtake natural gas as the dominant source of electricity generation in the U.S. in 2031, even without subsidies as wind and solar costs plunge, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis showed.

This U.S. shift will be driven by $745 billion in investments in renewables through 2040, outstripping the projected $95 billion that will be spent on building new fossil-fuel plants, said Elena Giannakopoulou, lead economist at BNEF. Solar and wind capacity will become cheaper than gas or coal without any incentives after 2020.

Washington Post: 30 Years Ago Scientists Warned Congress on Global Warming

It was such a different time -- and yet, the message was so similar.

Thirty years ago, on June 10 and 11 of 1986, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works commenced two days of hearings, convened by Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), on the subject of “Ozone Depletion, the Greenhouse Effect, and Climate Change.”

“This is not a matter of Chicken Little telling us the sky is falling,” Chafee said at the hearing. “The scientific evidence…is telling us we have a problem, a serious problem.”

Economist: Where the Smart Is

The fanfare has gone on for years. Analysts have repeatedly predicted that the “internet of things,” which adds sensors and internet capability to everyday physical objects, could transform the lives of individuals as dramatically as the spread of the mobile internet. Providers have focused on the home, touting products such as coffee pots that turn on when the alarm clock rings, lighting and blinds that adjust to the time of day, and fridges that send an alert when the milk runs out. But so far consumers have been largely resistant to making their homes “smart.”

That’s not for want of trying by tech firms, which have poured cash into their efforts to connect everyday objects to the internet. In 2014 Google made the biggest statement of intent so far, spending $3.2 billion to acquire Nest, a smart thermostat-maker, and $550M to buy Dropcam, which makes home-security cameras. Nest absorbed Dropcam; it is now one of the best-known smart-home brands. But it is also a warning about how long it will take for such gadgets to enter the mainstream.