Clock_Feature_10-2013

Turning back the emissions clock to 1994

With an economy roughly 50 percent larger than two decades ago – and with 50 million more energy consumers to boot – one might think our nation’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly higher today than back when Forrest Gump entertained moviegoers and Michael Jackson made headlines by wedding Elvis Presley’s daughter.

But they’re not.

In fact, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions fell 3.8 percent last year to levels not seen since 1994. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have actually declined in five out of the last seven years.

A key reason for those dramatic statistics is simple: natural gas from shale.

The EIA reports that the growing use of cleaner-burning, lower-carbon natural gas in place of coal to generate power has “substantially reduced the carbon intensity of electricity generation in 2012.”  From 2007 to 2012, this measure of carbon intensity in power generation – traditionally the largest emitter of greenhouse gases – has fallen by 13 percent.

I’ll note that these developments were not prompted by any sort of national program, regulation, or public expenditure from Washington.

They are due to the abundance of natural gas brought on by advances in hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling. This increase in U.S. energy supplies is also revitalizing domestic manufacturing and is providing one of the few sparks of life in the American economy.

In September, I pointed to a study compiled by T2 & Associates for the American Petroleum Institute.  It reported that the U.S.-based oil and gas industry invested more than $165 billion between 2000 and 2012 in technologies that helped reduce emissions, including those critical to the development of shale gas.

The U.S. has reduced its energy-related carbon dioxide output more than any other country, proving once again that when entrepreneurs and markets are free to invest in innovation, good things will happen.


5 Comments

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  1. John Shepard says:

    “The Fossil Fuel Industry Must Vigorously Defend Itself Against Attacks From Environmentalists” (Forbes) by Alex Epstein:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexepstein/2013/10/30/the-fossil-fuel-industry-must-vigorously-defend-itself-against-attacks-from-haughty-environmentalists/

  2. John Shepard says:

    “Environmentalism Refuted” (Mises Daily) by George Reisman:

    http://mises.org/daily/661/Environmentalism-Refuted

  3. John Shepard says:

    Mr. Cohen, you and/or your readers might appreciate a talk by Yaron Brook (Ayn Rand Institute), a 2008 follow-up to a talk given by Ayn Rand in 1969, “Apollo and Dionysus” (Ford Hall Forum) which compares and analysis two dominant influences in American culture revealed in the Apollo 11 moon launch and the Woodstock festival:

    “Woodstock’s Legacy: The Rise of Environmentalism and the Religious Right” (54 min):
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ls_woodstock

    Miss Rand’s original talk (69 min + a 52 min Q&A) can be listened to here:
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ar_apollo

    Follow the links to read the blurbs about the respective talks.

  4. Robert Dubisar says:

    The summer of 2013, I was a student at thr Northwest Renewable Energy Institute in Vancouver, Wa. I learned alot. According to the Institute, natural gas is viewed as an alternative energy source. As apposed to coal. I also learned in Energy Biz. magazine that America largely has yet to catch on to the long-range benefits of switching to N.G. Especially for private use, but even commercially. Of course, there are fleet systems that have made the change. Even though my family has not made the switch yet, we look forward to doing so soon. A cleaner burning fuel. Its a no-brainer.Electricity is way too expensive for heating and cooling.

  5. mark hall says:

    Without cost effective carbon capture and energy storage for alternates, the world’s climate will continue to worsen. We are developing emerging technology which does just that. Whom in ExxonMobil is the correct contact if ExxonMobil has interst in securing this technology?

  6. John Shepard says:

    “The Fossil Fuel Industry Must Vigorously Defend Itself Against Attacks From Environmentalists” (Forbes) by Alex Epstein:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexepstein/2013/10/30/the-fossil-fuel-industry-must-vigorously-defend-itself-against-attacks-from-haughty-environmentalists/

  7. John Shepard says:

    “Environmentalism Refuted” (Mises Daily) by George Reisman:

    http://mises.org/daily/661/Environmentalism-Refuted

  8. John Shepard says:

    Mr. Cohen, you and/or your readers might appreciate a talk by Yaron Brook (Ayn Rand Institute), a 2008 follow-up to a talk given by Ayn Rand in 1969, “Apollo and Dionysus” (Ford Hall Forum) which compares and analysis two dominant influences in American culture revealed in the Apollo 11 moon launch and the Woodstock festival:

    “Woodstock’s Legacy: The Rise of Environmentalism and the Religious Right” (54 min):
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ls_woodstock

    Miss Rand’s original talk (69 min + a 52 min Q&A) can be listened to here:
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ar_apollo

    Follow the links to read the blurbs about the respective talks.