Renewable energy use surpassed coal consumption in the United States last year for the first time since 1885, when wood was the main source of power, the federal government reported Thursday.
The Energy Information Administration, an agency within the Department of Energy, said coal use has been declining since reaching its peak in 2007. Last year was the sixth consecutive year coal consumption has declined, including a 15 percent drop between 2018 and 2019.
The use of coal overall dropped to its lowest level since 1964, the report said.
Use of renewable energy, defined by the EIA as a combination of hydro, wood, waste, biofuels, geothermal, wind and solar, increased by 1 percent in 2019.
The report did not include a comparison with petroleum or natural gas.
The EIA said the main reason for renewables passing coal was that electricity generated from coal dropped to its lowest level in 42 years. Natural gas has displaced much of the coal used for electricity generation.
Among renewables used for electricity, wind exceeded hydro for the first time in 2019.
Coal has been a target of environmentalists for years, and rules imposed in 2014 under the Barack Obama administration was criticized as a ploy to make it uneconomical to use.
The administration of President Donald Trump has rolled back some of the Obama-era rules.
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