Carbon dioxide emissions have dropped

But Americans might not want to pat themselves on the back for too long, as the positive trend won't continue indefinitely."Replacing coal with natural gas reduces smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury, but natural gas production and distribution comes with a host of problems, including methane leaks, contaminated water supplies, destroyed streams and devastated land- scapes," says Dan Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental group. "And while gas-fired power plants have lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal-fired ones, their emissions are still far too high to be considered a global warming solution." Furthermore, EIA says our energy-related carbon emissions are already rising again given recent increases in natural gas prices that have steered some utilities back to coal. The EIA anticipates U.S. energy-related carbon emissions rising 1.7 percent in 2013 and another 0.9 percent in 2014. The most important remaining question, says Lashof, is whether the U.S. will continue to reduce its CO2 emissions to achieve the president's 2020 goal of a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels-and eventually the 80 percent or more reductions needed to prevent the most dangerous risks of climate disruption.