At the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit a year ago, President Obama set a target for US emissions to drop about 4% from 2005 levels.
Even with the complete lack of an energy policy, the US is on track to meet that target, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA expects U.S. carbon emissions to fall 0.6% in 2011 (5.587 million tons) and then rise in 2012 as the economy recovers. Emissions will likely grow 2.39% in 2012 (5.720 million tons), but even with that gain, emissions will still be lower than levels not seen since 1999.
President Obama pledged the US would reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.
Electricity use should fall 2.1% in 2011 and grow 2.6% in 2012. Consumption rose 6.1% in 2010 because of a cold winter in the Southeast and a very warm summer east of the Rockies.
If temperatures return to more typical readings, the EIA expects total electricity generation to decline 0.3% in 2011 from the 4% increase in 2010.
In 2011, the agency expects coal generation to drop 2.4% and natural gas by 1%, because of a 6% increase in conventional hydro generation (assuming near-normal precipitation) and a 13% increase in renewable energy, mostly wind.