By Emily Holden, E&E News.
Coal use and energy-sector carbon emissions in the United States would both flatline without the Obama administration's climate standards for power plants, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration outlook released yesterday.
Natural gas and renewable power would grow to meet increasing power demand, although the specific levels will depend on how much each cost, the annual report notes. Overall, many EIA cases suggest the country could become a net energy exporter in the 2020s.
The study's baseline case assumes existing laws and regulations will be in place, although President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have sworn to reverse climate action in ways that could greatly alter the independent agency's projections.
"There's a lot of nuances in policy changes," said EIA chief Adam Sieminski. "Until we see a clear pattern of what both the Congress and the executive branch are going to do, I think you have to stick with EIA's existing set of side cases."
EIA has received some criticism for assuming in its business-as-usual case that the Clean Power Plan will move forward even though it faces court challenges and now will likely be shot down by the Trump administration. Projections from EIA traditionally assume current policies will continue, although alternative cases explore what else might happen.