Environmentalists like to claim that fracking accelerates global warming, but that’s likely not the case, according to numbers crunched in a report published Monday by the pro-industry group Energy In Depth (EID).
Environmental claims that America’s hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom accelerated global warming due to methane emissions were just blown away, according to a report published Monday by the pro-industry group Energy In Depth (EID).
The report, which cited 75 scientific studies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concluded that methane emissions are declining in both absolute terms and per unit of gas produced, despite an enormous increase in the amount of gas produced. Methane emissions matter because they cause 25 times more global warming per unit of gas than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a time period of 100 years, according to the EPA. Regardless, the report finds their emissions to have decreased, which does not bode well for anti-fracking campaigns.
The new gas production has caused America to transition to clean burning natural gas-fired power plants, which emit far less CO2 than conventional coal power, leading to a 12 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions since 2005.
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups assert that the environmental advantages of fracking are negated by increased methane emissions, but this claim isn’t supported by science.
The 75 scientific studies EID cites were published over the last 5 years by the firm ICF International. These studies found that methane emissions from the natural gas industry are sharply falling, even though production of natural gas has spiked. Absolute methane emissions from natural gas fell by 15 percent between 1990 and 2014, and emissions per unit of natural gas produced dropped by 43 percent over the same period.
Even the EPA has noted that rising natural gas use is responsible for falling greenhouse gas emissions, saying in an April report “a decrease in the carbon intensity of fuels consumed to generate electricity has occurred due to … increased natural gas consumption and other generation sources.”
The EPA report found that in 2014, methane only accounted for 10.6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions emissions in 2014. However, most of these methane emissions were from agriculture, not the natural gas industry, which only accounted for about 2.6 percent of emissions.
EPA is considering rules which would further limit methane emissions, but these would have essentially no impact on global warming. In fact, they would only cause a temperature drop of 0.0047 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. The rules would make it hard to produce natural gas, which would likely increase CO2 emissions that are the primary driver of global warming.
Fracking, not government green policies, caused CO2 emissions to drop sharply in 47 states and Washington, D.C., in 2015, according to both Scientific American and the Energy Information Administration. The biggest cause of declining CO2 emissions is America’s fracking boom, not solar or wind power, according to a study published last November by the Manhattan Institute.
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