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Hail Shale
The US Keeps Getting Greener

The Environmental Protection Agency still exists—though House Republicans have introduced a bill that would seek to change that, and President Trump is reportedly ready to sign executive orders to hamstring the agency’s climate change-related efforts—and it just released its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions report. The published information only runs through 2015, owing to the lag associated with such large data sets, but what we do know is, well, encouraging. The Hill reports:

[T]he EPA said total emissions of climate change-causing gases decreased in 2015 after back-to-back years of small growth. The report uses the most up-to-date data about greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA attributed the overall decline to lower carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, which itself came about because of less coal consumption in favor of natural gas, warmer winter weather that decreased heating fuel demand and lower electricity demand overall.

A 2.2 percent annual decrease in overall GHG emissions is no small feat, and it will obviously be received as good news by environmentalists around the country. But before those greens despair that now, without Obama, those emissions are going to spike again, let’s consider that it was a shift in fossil fuels—not renewables—that was responsible for the majority of these reductions. Specifically, it was the ongoing displacement of coal-fired power plants by natural gas-fired ones that did the heavy lifting for American climate change mitigation in 2015.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions hit a 25-year low over the first six months of 2016, continuing the progress that the EPA says we made in 2015. In both cases, the drop in emissions was largely put down to a decline in coal usage (coal is the dirtiest and highest-emitting fossil fuel). Interestingly, it was cheap shale gas and not President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that dethroned Old King Coal.

That’s why fracking should be considered green, and it’s also why we shouldn’t expect Donald Trump to increase our overall emissions. Trump is fracking friendly, and as many times as he promised to revive the coal industry during his campaign, he won’t rein in the shale boom just to make coal country happy. The oil and gas that revolution is unleashing is just too important to our energy security and the U.S. economy to ignore.

Trump, like Obama, will work hard to create an environment in which our shale industry can flourish, and in so doing he’ll not just be shoring up our domestic energy supplies, he’ll be making America greener.

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  • Unelected Leader

    The watermelons (red communists pretending to be some innocuous green..thing) are so ignorant. They’ll never be able to wrap their head around this.
    They are so incredibly ignorant that the handicapped protesters in North Dakota literally thought they were stopping the flow of oil from the Bakken field. Had no clue that it’s already transported by the more dangerous methods of rail and road.

  • CaliforniaStark

    Now that the U.S. is beginning to export natural gas, we are contributing to there being less pollution (and less GHG emissions) world wide. Ironically, Obama having inadvertently permitted the shale revolution to happen, then tried desperately to rein it in with new methane regulations and pipeline restrictions. Thankfully he is gone; as a result the world will be less polluted and more prosperous.

  • Fat_Man

    Once you have killed off all of your industry, your emissions go down. It is not a good thing. It is a tragedy.

    • MyWord245

      While there is some truth to what you’re saying, a big reason is that the power conversion turbines — CHP cycles — have become extremely efficient. GE and Semen’s should get as much credit as fracking. For an engineer breaking the 50% conversion efficiency is a big deal (compared to what used to be 33%). Now GE turbines are reaching 60% with a combined cycle. So for the same amount of heat, we are extracting nearly twice the useful energy resulting in lowered emissions. One can achieve similar progress via coal gasification as well.

      • CaliforniaStark

        By getting innovative in the use of waste heat; Siemens effectively raised its energy conversion efficiency of a natural gas power plant to 85%.

        “Siemens sets new performance and efficiency world record at Düsseldorf power plant
        -Electrical efficiency of around 61.5 percent and a record power generating capacity of 603.8 MW during test run
        -Plant can supply around 300 MW of heat for district heating.”

        Agree about coal gasification. We have poured subsidies into wind and solar. Its time to let them sink or swim on their own, and start funding research for new technologies.

        • MyWord245

          Amen! A friend, works at GE, told me that they are trying low temp desalination. Exciting times in technology.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I like Carbon Dioxide, experiments have proven that an increase from 285 ppm to the 400 ppm of today, has increased plant growth by 15%. Since plants are the bottom of the food chain, that means there’s 15% more life. Plus, this warm period between Ice Ages (11,000-14,000 years) is growing long in the tooth, and if Carbon Dioxide will keep another Ice Age at bay, I want more Carbon Dioxide.

    • CaliforniaStark

      Don’t you know the science is settled. As WRM says repeatedly on this blog; we all know that climate change is real.

      Thankfully, so did former President Obama, who on December 16, 2016 signed a bill providing $558 million to provide relief to drought-stricken California. Obama said the bill will “help assure that California is more resilient in the face of growing water demands and drought-based uncertainty.” The money comes just in time, as an expert pointed out: “If that Oroville dam breaks, that will cause the biggest flood during a drought caused by man-made global warming, ever.”

  • Pait

    The US keeps getting greener, but we can count on the so-called president to try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, perhaps by taxing solar panels, wind turbines, and why not fracking equipment as well, and turn the spoils into a giveaway to coal and oil companies.

    • Tom

      And the Trump derangement syndrome keeps on keeping on.

  • lfstevens

    So US emissions are at the 1991 level, almost achieving the “1990” target. I maintain that stabilizing the climate will require returning to 1890 emission levels. No chance of that “in time”.

  • Peter Wales

    Actually no. CO2 levels are so low compared with levels over geological time frames that they close to starvation level for many green plants including forests, grasses and key crops. Less CO2 means less green. More CO2 = healthier crops and forests = more green.

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