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Frack Baby Frack
Shale Gas Drags US Energy Emissions to 25-Year Low

The United States has emitted less carbon through June of this year than at any other point in the past 25 years. The EIA reports:

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions totaled 2,530 million metric tons in the first six months of 2016. This was the lowest emissions level for the first six months of the year since 1991, as mild weather and changes in the fuels used to generate electricity contributed to the decline in energy-related emissions. EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook projects that energy-associated CO2 emissions will fall to 5,179 million metric tons in 2016, the lowest annual level since 1992. […]

Coal and natural gas consumption each decreased compared to the first six months of 2015. However, the decrease was greater for coal, which generates more carbon emissions when burned than natural gas. Coal consumption fell 18%, while natural gas consumption fell 1%. These declines more than offset a 1% increase in total petroleum consumption, which rose during that period as a result of low gasoline prices.

The EIA wants to credit the growth of renewables like wind and solar for part of this historic decline in energy-related emissions, and while they undoubtedly played a part, it was a minor one. Let’s keep in mind that renewable energy sources accounted for less than 11 percent of our energy consumption in June of this year, a far cry from fossil fuels, which were responsible for more than 80 percent of our overall consumption.

No, it was coal’s sharp decline—a drop of 18 percent in the first half of this year as compared to 2015—that really moved the needle on America’s energy emissions. And let’s not forget that Old King Coal isn’t being dethroned by onerous regulations, but rather by market forces. More specifically, coal’s demise has been precipitated by the sudden rise in domestic natural gas production that has led to an oversupply (and, as a result bargain prices). This, of course, comes to us courtesy of the great shale revolution.

The next time you hear an environmentalist bemoaning the devilish ways of American frackers, remind them that shale gas is one of the very few climate change solutions that doesn’t involve donning an economic hair shirt. We’re growing, green.

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  • Tom

    “shale gas is one of the very few climate change solutions that doesn’t involve donning an economic hair shirt.”

    That’s a bug, not a feature, as far as environmentalists are concerned.

  • FriendlyGoat

    “And let’s not forget that Old King Coal isn’t being dethroned by onerous regulations, but rather by market forces.”

    Too bad you can’t get Donald Trump, or the GOP in general, to tell that truth in Ohio. Donnie-boy will be lying to them on this exact point in that particular swing state right through election day.

    • JR

      I mean, Obama bragging about bankrupting the coal industry is not the best look in the coal country.

      • FriendlyGoat

        If people in coal country were being told the truth that today’s glut of natural gas means that coal—–and especially underground-dug coal from Appalachia—–is not competitive as well as not environmentally desirable, we’d have a better debate. TAI did it in a sentence.

  • Fat_Man

    “climate change solutions that doesn’t involve donning an economic hair shirt.”

    The hair shirt is not a side effect it is the main goal of the “environmental” movement. Of course, they will wear their hair shirts over silk undergarments, that you will not be able to afford. All the better for them to point at you and laugh., which is their hiefest joy.

  • CaliforniaStark

    “Let’s keep in mind that renewable energy sources accounted for less than 11 percent of our energy consumption in June of this year”

    If you take just wind and solar alone, the percentage is even lower — in 2015 wind generated only 4.7% of U.S. electricity, and solar only 0.6%. These percentages are only for electricity generation. Total energy includes, besides electricity, transportation and industrial fuels. For total energy, its likely wind and solar combined were in the 3-4% range in 2015.

    The EIA article uses the term “energy generation’ and “energy capacity” almost as if they are interchangeable. They are not. Energy capacity refers to the amount of power that would be generated by an energy source if it ran 24/7. Because of the intermittent nature of wind and solar, the actual energy they produce is much lower than their nameplate capacity. Compare solar, which produces roughly 15-20% of its nameplate capacity, versus nuclear energy producing at about 90% of nameplate capacity, and you can understand why, despite enormous subsidies, solar power is producing less than one percent of U.S. electricity.

    If environmentalists were serious about reducing carbon emissions; they should be strongly supporting replacing coal with natural gas in the near term, and advocating for further research in modern nuclear and hydrogen technologies for the future.

  • Ben

    “This was the lowest emissions level for the first six months of the year since 1991, AS MILD WEATHER and changes in the fuels used to generate electricity contributed to the decline in energy-related emissions”

    Agree that it’s great to be switching to gas from coal, but don’t you think this note is overlooking the whole ‘mild weather’ factor here? Seems odd to take credit for the weather…

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