U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide declined slightly in 1998, the first drop since 1991, when the nation was in a recession, according to preliminary data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Forthcoming numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration also show a very flat level of change rather than the 2 percent annual increase of recent years. Many experts have been surprised to find that emissions were primarily flat even as the economy surged ahead, bringing into question the conventional wisdom that economic growth and energy consumption are tied together. The slowdown is being attributed to better technology, increased conservation, and a shift toward an Internet-based economy.