People know the U.S. has dramatically increased domestic production of oil and gas the last few years, but by how much? How about 100 times as much? That’s the experience in North Dakota’s Bakken formation, where production in July exceeded 600,000 barrels of oil per day — up from 6,000 bpd just six years ago. Those numbers are a testament to the natural resource revolution spurred by innovative technologies that enable production from unconventional sources like shale and tight rock.
We know that burning natural gas for electricity reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60 percent compared to coal-fired power generation – that’s a major factor behind the historic drop in U.S. emissions highlighted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Now it turns out the emissions reductions could be even more impressive going forward.
Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. were recently recorded at their lowest levels since 1992, despite the fact our economy is 60 percent bigger and we use more energy than we did two decades ago. How is this possible? Because utilities are using less coal and more natural gas for electricity generation – yet another benefit of the shale revolution transforming American energy.
The government’s National Energy Technology Laboratory recently took a look at life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas production. Their findings – that utilities see big emissions reductions when switching from coal to natural gas to generate electricity – provide further reason for policymakers to encourage the development of America’s abundant gas resources.