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Energy & Environment

Texas Runs On Natural Gas, Less On Coal

Texas is using more natural gas and far less coal to make electricity. It’s part of a nationwide trend.

Texas still uses more coal than any other state to make electricity but in a race with natural gas, coal is losing by a widening margin.

A decade ago, Texas power plants burned both coal and natural gas in about equal proportions. But the latest federal figures we reviewed show that natural gas is now generating twice as much electricity as coal in Texas according to data for October 2015 from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Nationwide, the federal Department of Energy says overall coal consumption dropped 24 percent last year. A big reason: natural gas is very cheap with so much now being produced in Texas and other oil and gas states.

"Wherever you have the option to pick coal over gas, you're going to go with gas," EIA analyst Glenn McGrath told Scientific American. "A whole lot of production capacity has been put online with all this fracking. They've generated tremendous supply."

Power companies also have an incentive to switch to natural gas because it burns much cleaner than coal, allowing those companies to meet new air pollution rules under the federal Clean Power Plan.

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