US fossil-fuel emissions lowest since 1991

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The United States pumped out the least climate-changing pollution from fossil fuels in the first six months of this year than at any such period since 1991, federal energy officials said Wednesday.

That's in part because those six months were the third-warmest on record in the country. From January to June, the number of days that Americans needed to turn on their heating dropped to the lowest level since at least 1949, when the U.S. Energy Information Administration began keeping those records nationwide.

The warming stemmed in part from a strong El Nino and other factors, including climate change already in motion from the use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Overall, American households used 9 percent less energy than in the same period in 2015, the federal agency said.

The ongoing plunge in the use of coal — down 18 percent in the first six months of this year, compared to that period in 2015 — also is helping reduce carbon emissions, energy officials said. That decline more than offset the 1 percent rise in gasoline consumption as Americans took advantage of cheaper gas.

Meanwhile, Americans' use of energy from wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable sources that do not emit climate-changing carbon dioxide jumped 9 percent in the first six months, the energy agency said.

Americans' output of climate-changing carbon pollution overall for 2016 is on track to be the lowest annually since 1992, when the country had nearly 70 million fewer people.

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