Fracking Boom Makes U.S. Laggard No More on Greenhouse-Gas Cuts
This is a topical and informative article by Mark Drajem for Bloomberg. Here is the opening:
March 27 (Bloomberg) -- The boom in American natural-gas production is doing what international negotiations and legislation couldn't: reducing U.S. carbon-dioxide pollution.
With decade-low prices, natural gas is easing out coal in power generation, a change that cuts greenhouse gases by half at the smokestack. That shift, combined with state programs to encourage renewable energy and new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that could come as early as today, has put the country on course to cut domestic greenhouse-gas emissions 12 percent by 2020, on par with what the failed cap-and-trade legislation aimed to achieve, said Dallas Burtraw, a fellow at Resources for the Future in Washington.
"Given the politics of climate policy, it's easy to get discouraged," Kevin Kennedy, the head of the U.S. climate initiative at the World Resources Institute in Washington, said in an interview. "But a lot of good progress has been made."
Carbon emissions from energy in the U.S., the largest source after China, probably will stay below the record level of 6 billion metric tons set in 2007 for the next 23 years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted Jan. 23, the first time it forecast a long-term reduction.
The story in the U.S. is in contrast to China, India, Mexico and Russia, where demand for carbon-dependent cars and electricity is surging, leaving the planet on a course for unsustainable warming, according to a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Global Change Program.
'Urgently Needed Change'
"There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is under way," the International Energy Association said in its World Energy Outlook in November.
Unlike the past, however, the U.S. isn't lagging behind while progress is made in Europe, Japan or even China.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that failed to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and it tussled with China as negotiations on a climate accord foundered at recent summits. The Senate never took up a 2009 cap-and-trade measure that passed the House of Representatives, and there is no similar legislative effort in the works.
Progress came from an unexpected source: a fossil fuel.
With the increased use of natural gas in the U.S. the Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2035, carbon- dioxide emissions will total 5.8 billion metric tons, a cut of 8 percent from a forecast just last year. That's also down 40 percent from the prediction made in 2005, before the recession, according to Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council.
David Fuller's view The irony of this situation will not be lost on the often reviled fracking industry. I expect to see a 'Hug a Fracker' bumper sticker any day now.
Fullermoney maintains that shale gas and shale oil will become immense, long-term game changers for the energy industry within a decade. This made-in-the-USA technology is leading America towards energy independence and other countries with substantial reserves of unconventional oil and gas will follow its lead.
(For much more on this subject, use the 'Search' facility shown in the menu upper left, fourth item down and search under the word shale.)