PITTSBURGH (AP) — The huge, belching smokestacks of electric power plants have long symbolized air pollution woes. But U.S. government statistics show that a shift is under way: More and more electric plants around the nation are being fueled by natural gas, which is far cleaner than coal, the traditional fuel.
Nationwide, the U.S. Energy Information Agency says natural gas use for power generation rose 7 percent between 2009 and 2010, and more than 50 percent since 2000.
The most optimistic projections describe an abundant domestic energy source that will create enormous numbers of jobs and lead to cleaner skies.
But experts say that the trend could stall because if too many plants embrace cheap gas, prices will rise and utilities will turn back to coal.