Thanks in Good Measure to Fracking U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Down 9 Percent From 2007 Peak

The Institute for Energy Research, a generally free market think tank that focuses on energy policy, notes that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are down 9.1 percent below their 2007 peak. Why? The sluggish economy has reduced demand for energy; high oil prices in recent years have reduced demand for gasoline; low natural gas prices and new EPA regulations that discourage coal-powered electricity generation have led to fuel switching from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon natural gas; and more renewable fuels (hydro, bioethanol, wind, and solar) have displaced a small amount of fossil fuel consumption.

As the IER notes:

In 2011, total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were 5,472 million metric tons, of which 34 percent was from coal, 24 percent from natural gas, and 42 percent from petroleum. Carbon dioxide emissions from petroleum declined by 2.1 percent in 2011 as a poor economy, high oil prices, and increased use of biofuels resulted in a drop in petroleum consumption of 1.8 percent.

Carbon dioxide emissions from coal also declined, but at a higher rate than petroleum—5.8 percent— as low natural gas prices and EPA regulations have both electric generators and industrial producers switching to natural gas as their fuel of choice. Lower natural gas prices are a result of hydraulic fracturing technology that allows shale gas to be produced very economically in abundant quantities. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas increased by 2.4 percent. Since 2006, carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas have increased by almost 12 percent.

But, because the carbon dioxide content of natural gas is about half that of coal, fuel switching from coal to natural gas for electric generation has resulted in lower carbon dioxide emissions from that sector.  So, even though the demand for electricity was up in 2011 by 1.2 percent, carbon dioxide emissions from the electric generation sector were down by 4.6 percent. That trend in continuing into 2012 as coal’s share of generation continues to decline.

Due to cheap natural gas, the new EPA regs aren't costing consumers much now, but what happens when/if natural gas prices begin to rise? As the IER notes the U.S. will no longer have the option of generating electricity from coal once those plants have been shuttered or converted to natural gas generation.

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  • o3||

    frakkking always causes tensions in discussions w my lefty commie friends when i point-out NatGas is shutting-down the coal industry und stopping mountian top removal.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Plus NatGas is actually renewable (if not necessarily at the rate it is consumed).

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The fact that you have lefty commie friends speaks volumes, stOOOpid.

  • Brett L||

    "Due to cheap natural gas, the new EPA regs aren't costing consumers much now, but what happens when/if natural gas prices begin to rise? "

    Maybe you have your causation backwards. Due to the EPA making coal generation more expensive, the electrical generation industry found a way to make natural gas cheap.

  • R C Dean||

    Don't think it actually played out that way, Brett. State-of-the-art fracking was actually refined by wildcatters (around Midland-Odessa, I'm told, but that may just be West Texas hometowning) with no connection to the generation industry.

    These were long-time drilling guys who got some leases, cheap, because nobody thought you could get much out of them. They tweaked their fracking formulas, and bang, untold riches.

  • Brett L||

    Thanks, RC. So in this chronology, gas was expensive, relatively, and these guys found some cheap leases and took another shot at fracking... Interesting.

  • Ron Bailey||

    BL: Also what RC said.

  • Ron Bailey||

    BL: That would certainly encourage that sort of innovation, but fracking began adding significantly to supplies in 2006. As Popular Mechanics noted:

    According to a 2009 study by the Potential Gas Committee, which tracks gas supplies, natural gas reserves in the U.S. jumped 35 percent from 2006 to 2008—due in part to increased use of hydraulic fracturing techniques.

    The new EPA regs were not formulated until the Obama administration came along.

  • Brett L||

    Damn facts are standing in the way of my narrative!

  • DingHooo||

    Welcome to America, run by the rich, FOR the rich!

    www.Full-Anon.tk

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If people are at home watching BSG and then having sex, they're not out driving their fossil fuel mobiles.

  • mustard||

    Lower natural gas prices are a result of hydraulic fracturing technology that allows shale gas to be produced very economically in abundant quantities. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas increased by 2.4 percent. Since 2006, carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas have increased by almost 12 percent.

    So fracking increases CO2 emissions. Right there in black and white. But you try to spin something else to claim it helps global warming.

  • ||

    Reading comprehension; how the fuck does it work?

  • ||

    In mus-tard's case, it never does.

  • ||

    I'm using natural gas instead of firewood to heat my home. Which is better for the environment, genius?

  • Earth First!||

    People are taking action against fracking! Check out this video.

    http://earthfirstnews.wordpres.....cking-rig/

  • ||

    Die in a fire. No seriously. All of you people that think the earth would be better off with less humans on it should kill yourselves. Put up or shut up.

  • ||

    The Institute for Energy Research, a generally free market think tank that focuses on energy policy, notes that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are down 9.1 percent below their 2007 peak.

    Down by 9.1 percent at the end of 2011? or are 2012 numbers in there as well?

  • ||

    In the EU’s wisdom of meeting their carbon goal for 2020, they have banned hydraulic fracturing in favor of the green lobbies’ wishes. Europe’s socialism that imposed cap-and-trade restrictions making its industries less globally competitive is now experiencing a coal boom. On the other hand, American capitalism has achieved technological innovation in hydraulic fracturing, lowered energy prices for natural gas, reduced dependence on foreign energy imports, and raised the prospect of energy independence in the future.

    The Irony is thick.

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