I guess the green warriors have finally won the battle. A new report shows that not only are carbon emissions not still rising, but they’ve already begun falling and are lower than they have been since Bill Clinton was in office.
The most underreported recent environmental story has been the dramatic decline in energy-related carbon emissions — nearly back to mid-1990s levels, and falling.
Maybe it’s because that story just doesn’t fit the left’s mantra that traditional energy sources are destroying the environment.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) June energy report says that energy-related carbon dioxide fell to 5,473 million metric tons (MMT) in 2011.
That’s down from a high of 6,020 MMT in 2007, and only a little above 1995’s level of 5,314 MMT.
So I guess all of those windmills and solar panels and cars that catch on mysteriously non-carbon emitting fire have gotten the job done. But wait… the timing on this looks kind of suspicious. Carbon levels kept rising under Clinton – and Bush. And when they started declining, Barack Obama was still in the Senate so he doesn’t get credit. What gives?
The most likely explanation for the decline is the shale gas revolution, made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Increasingly, power plants are turning to natural gas because it has become abundant, and therefore cheap. And though technology is improving our ability to reduce emissions from coal usage, natural gas is still a much cleaner source.
Indeed, natural gas has just passed an important milestone. As noted by John Hanger, energy expert and former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: “As of April, gas tied coal at 32% of the electric power generation market, nearly ending coal’s 100-year reign on top of electricity markets.”
So… all of that evil fracking and how it’s going to destroy the environment you were going on and on about? Is it any wonder that you haven’t heard a peep about this out of the current administration or the armies of climate change enthusiasts?
Doug Mataconis notes that another factor in reduced emissions just might be credited to the current administration. The economy still stinks.
The decline in total emissions, as well as emissions from coal and fossil fuels is rather obvious. Of course, it’s worth noting that at least some of this decline in emissions could be due to the impact of the economic downturn. In reality, it’s likely the economic crisis that has helped contribute to this process, though. With the economy in a period of tediously low growth, demand for energy is low meaning that energy producers began looking for ways to cut costs since increasing rates would have been problematic in such an environment. With oil prices remaining at relatively high rates and new EPA regulations making coal-fired plants more expensive to run, the switch to cheap, plentiful and cleaner-burning natural gas was really rather inevitable.
The fact is that the natural gas is not just one of the cleaner burning fuels, but the process of getting it out of the ground puts pretty much zilch into the atmosphere as well. Fabulists like Josh Fox aside, it doesn’t do a heck of a lot else besides produce heat and energy for us. But oddly, you apparently won’t see the current administration talking up this new “good news.” Because it’s only good news if it helps the political agenda, I guess.