Fracking and America’s Emissions Reduction Success
Posted August 11, 2016
Check out this quote from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Adam Sieminski, included in remarks distributed this week with EIA’s latest Short-term Energy Outlook report:
“The drop in CO2 emissions is largely the result of low natural gas prices, which have contributed to natural gas displacing a large amount of coal used for electricity generation.”
Sieminski refers to estimates that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions decreased 2.7 percent in 2015 and were 12 percent lower than they were in 2005 – despite the fact the economy last year was 15 percent larger than it was in 2005.
Now, Sieminski didn’t directly link these carbon dioxide emissions reductions with fracking. But we will. Follow along as we connect the dots:
- America’s energy renaissance – driven primarily by safe, modern hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – is producing huge volumes of natural gas.
- This natural gas abundance is making gas more affordable, more competitive in the marketplace.
- Available, affordable and cleaner-burning natural gas is increasingly the fuel of choice in U.S. electricity generation. EIA projects that for the first time ever natural gas will be the country’s leading fuel for power generation this year.
- Thanks primarily to increased use of natural gas, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2015 were the lowest since 1993.
So, yes: Thanks to fracking, the United States has reduced CO2 emissions to levels not seen in more than two decades, allowing the U.S. to lead the world in that important climate category – as it leads the world in oil and natural gas production. Around the globe there’s a lot of talk about making climate progress; the United States is actually achieving that progress, and it is doing so without sacrificing jobs, economic growth, energy security or consumer affordability.
Again, this progress tracks with rising domestic natural gas production and its wider use across the country. EIA reports that consumption of natural gas for power generation (power burn) reached 40.9 billion cubic feet per day in mid-July, a record:
Low natural gas prices and growth in natural gas power generation infrastructure are the main driving factors behind this summer's growth in natural gas use. While the summer season is generally the time of year when power burn is highest, because of air-conditioning demand, gas consumption for power generation has also been rising in the winter, as natural gas makes up a larger share of baseload generation.
The issue going forward is to make sure American keeps going forward with its domestic energy revolution. Americans support this energy path in landslide-like numbers:
- 84 percent of registered voters agree that access to domestic oil and natural gas resources could help strengthen America’s energy security.
- 77 percent support increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas.
- 77 percent think it’s important that the United States is doing better on reducing greenhouse gases than all of the other major economies in Europe and elsewhere.
- 70 percent support the role of natural gas in reducing U.S. greenhouse gases.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.