The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Natural Gas Plan for Reducing Carbon Emissions

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 11, 2017

There’s a remarkable reality – among the many benefits of abundant, cleaner-burning domestic natural gas – that mustn’t be lost in the political back-and-forth over this week’s EPA decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP): The U.S. is achieving CPP’s objectives for reducing power-sector carbon emissions – without CPP’s implementation.

It’s true: Reductions of U.S. CO2 emissions from electricity generation are well on their way to surpassing EPA’s estimate that CPP would lower CO2 emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. And it’s being done without CPP, thanks largely to market forces driving the increased use of natural gas in power generation.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that U.S. CO2 emissions from electricity generation were 24.6 percent lower than 2005 levels in 2016 and are projected to be 26 percent lower than 2005 by this year’s end.

carbon_emissions

EIA credits increased use of natural gas as a leading factor in falling carbon emissions from the power sector. Further, EIA says 63 percent of the decrease in CO2 emissions from electricity generation since 2005 have come from fuel switching to natural gas:

revised_fuel_switching

Bottom lines: CO2 emissions from power generation are at their lowest point in nearly 30 years, according to EIA, while CO2 emissions from energy use across the entire U.S. economy are at their lowest point in nearly 25 years. Equally remarkable: These carbon dioxide reductions since 2005 have occurred during a period of increased domestic energy production and general economic growth.

CPP will continue to be debated, yet it bears repeating: The U.S. has been significantly lowering its carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector without CPP implementation, mostly because market decisions to use increasing volumes of domestic natural gas.

So, we’ll keep developing America’s natural gas abundance. It’s leading our country’s progress in reducing CO2 emissions, has lowered costs for U.S. consumers and has benefited domestic manufacturing. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“Even without the Clean Power Plan’s implementation, our nation has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power generation … thanks to the increased use of clean, reliable and affordable natural gas. Even as we have become the world’s top producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, carbon emissions are near 25-year lows throughout our nation’s economy. … Market forces and technological innovation have driven the increased use of natural gas which has brought great benefits to American consumers, workers, and the environment. We look forward to our continued work with the Administration and Congress on policies that advance our nation’s economic and environmental goals.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.