Natural gas has surpassed coal power as the largest source of electricity in the U.S., according to a report published Thursday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Natural gas provided about 33 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S. in 2016, while the amount of power provided by coal accounted for only 32 percent, according to the EIA report.
Between 2000 and 2008, coal was significantly less expensive than natural gas, and coal supplied about 50 percent of all U.S. electricity. In 2016, natural gas generated more electricity than coal power in every month except January.
This boom in natural gas is due to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” of shale gas, which unexpectedly created an incredible amount of new natural gas production, making the resource very cheap. The U.S. is now the world’s largest and fastest growing producer of natural gas. It even surpassed Russia in production earlier this year.
The trend towards natural gas will likely lead to a large drop in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The Department of Energy agrees with Berkeley Earth that “the transition from coal to natural gas for electricity generation has probably been the single largest contributor to the … largely unexpected decline in U.S. CO2 emissions.”
Even President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz thinks fracking has been good for the planet by way of sharply reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — which allegedly contribute to global warming.
“The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment,” Moniz said at an event in Seattle. “The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer [carbon dioxide] emissions.”
American carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by 1,022 million tons, making them significantly lower than the 2007 peak. For every ton of carbon dioxide cut by solar power, fracking has cut 13 tons and is responsible for roughly 20 percent of the total decline.
Statistical analysis previously published by The Daily Caller News Foundation found a significant link and correlation between a state’s CO2 emissions and the dependence of its economy on fracking. This analysis showed there was about a 95 percent chance of a powerful positive correlation. This means there is a 95 percent chance the correlation between the two is not random, which is the level at which scientists typically accept a link.
A mere 10 years ago, experts assumed America’s natural gas industry was in a terminal decline because prices had skyrocketed, and it looked like the U.S. would be increasingly dependent on imports. Some academics even suggested natural gas would cease to be a major American energy source by 2010.
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