The Trump administration is celebrating a drop in the nation's greenhouse gas emissions last year, even as the president himself continues to challenge the scientific understanding of climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency says U.S. production of heat-trapping gases was 2.7 percent lower in 2017 than the previous year. Despite the improvement, independent analysts say the country is likely to fall far short of the pollution controls needed to rein in global warming.
"The trends that are driving the emission reductions that we saw in 2017 were baked in several years before," said Kate Larsen, who monitors greenhouse gas emissions for the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. "We can't rely on those trends continuing forever."
Much of the reduction in 2017 came from power plants — traditionally a leading source of carbon pollution. Emissions from the electricity sector fell by 4.5 percent as utilities switched to cheap natural gas and increasingly competitive renewable sources of power. Coal's share of electricity production fell to just 30 percent.
"These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist and, like President Trump, a skeptic when it comes to climate science.