Fracking Lets Natural Gas Rout Coal For 4th Consecutive Month

Reuters/Jim Urquhart

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Natural gas produced more electricity than coal for every month between July and October, according to data released Thursday by the Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas accounted for 35 percent of all electricity generated between those months. Coal only accounted for  33.6 percent, as shown in calculations performed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” of shale gas unexpectedly created an incredible amount of new natural gas production, making the resource very cheap. The United States is now the world’s largest and fastest growing producer of natural gas. It even surpassed Russia’s production earlier this year.

“We are truly witnessing a changing of the guard of global energy suppliers…The implications of the shale revolution for the U.S. are profound,” British Petroleum Chief Economist Spencer Dale said about the effects of fracking in a presentation.

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.

The trend towards natural gas will likely lead to a large drop in 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.”

American carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by 1,022 million tons, making them significantly lower than their peak in 2007. 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.

Meanwhile, wind and solar power together generated less electricity in the first half of 2015 than in the first half of 2014. Furthermore, investment in “green” energy sources has been flat for almost five years, both domestically and globally.

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