Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Three New Facts Prove That Banning Fracking Boosts Carbon Pollution & Challenge Environmentalists To Rethink Shale Gas

In 2008, just as shale gas reached a tipping point, moving from small to massive amounts of production in the USA, questions abounded about the impact of shale gas on carbon emissions.  Would shale gas have a big or little impact on the construction of new coal plants?  Would shale gas displace large or small amounts of production at existing coal plants?

Or, if shale gas were stopped, would renewable energy production jump, take the place of gas, and displace coal, as those seeking to ban fracking frequently asserted?

The last 18 months have produced 3 critical energy facts that answer those questions, challenge some environmentalists to rethink, and demonstrate why banning shale gas is environmental folly.

First, coal boomed globally in 2011, with global coal consumption rising 5.4% but falling 5% in North America.  Last year, coal provided 30.9% of the world's total energy, its highest portion of the world's total energy since the 1969.  www.johnhanger.blogspot.com/2012/06/new-data-documents-shale-gas-is.html.

Second, coal generation is booming in the UK, rising to 42% of the UK's total electricity, as cheaper coal displaces expensive gas.  www.johnhanger.blogspot.com/coal-generation-booms-in-uk-displaces.html.  The UK has yet to produce shale gas, though that may be changing. Plainly, renewable energy currently cannot displace coal and oil, even when shale gas is not being produced.

Third, coal generation in the US declined from 48% in 2008 to 32% in April 2012; the US led the world in reducing carbon emissions since 2006; US energy related carbon emissions were back to 1996 levels in 2011 and may fall in 2012 to 1990 levels.  www.johnhanger.blogspot.com/2012/06/climate-change-stunner-shale-gas-makes.html.

Shale gas has displaced huge amounts of existing coal generation and caused the cancellation of more than 100 new coal plants in the one and only place in the world where it has boomed--the USA!   In the USA, natural gas is more competitive than coal, because the price of natural gas has plummeted from $13 to $2 for a thousand cubic feet, as a result of the shale gas boom that now accounts for 37% of gas production

Everywhere else in the world shale gas is not yet being produced for a variety of reasons, including environmental opposition in some cases.  And from China to Western Europe, where shale gas is yet to boom, coal consumption grows.

While renewable energy is growing around the world and in the USA too, renewable energy is not filling the vacuum opened, when natural gas is not an option. Only gas and renewables together can currently displace large amounts of more carbon intensive coal and oil.

Still don't believe it? Again, 2011 globally was coal's best year since 1969!

Saying no to shale gas means using more coal and oil.  It also means rising carbon pollution.  Conversely, using shale gas displaces coal and oil and slashes carbon emissions.

Blocking shale gas is climate folly, at a time of rising global coal and oil consumption.  And responsibly producing shale gas will be essential to cutting carbon emissions and will remain so for the next 20 to 40 years.  The last 18 months of global experience proves these facts.


  1. U.S. total carbon emissions declined by 446 million metric tons (tons) or 7.5% in 2011 compared to 2006.

    Petroleum emissions declined by 304 tons or 11.7% and coal/gas emissions declined by 142 tons or 4.3%.

    It's the decline in petroleum consumption (and there is limited substitution between gas and petroleum for motor vehicles, jet fuel and the diesel fuel component of distillates) not shale gas that is the driver of lower emissions.

    1. The latest EIA data shows transportation emissions declined less than 1% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011.

      Coal was about 44% of the electric generation market in the first quarter of 2011. By the first quarter of 2012, coal generation was 36% of the market. That 8 percentage point decline is the equivalent of about 340 million tons and a net decrease of about 170 million tons if one assumes gas captures the entire 8%.

  2. This is all good stuff. I am afraid, however, you do not understand those you reference. The 'environmentalists' do not want others to use ANY fossil fuels...

  3. Thanks for the sensible commentary. Nice to see that at least one person is Pennsylvania recognizes the mythology that many ill-informed environmentalists gobble down.

    A couple of other things you might have mentioned: methane occurs naturally in the ground and is not very harmful to human beings, even if we ingest or breathe it; also, unlike coal mines, natural gas mines have very little negative impact on the environment. Grass and trees are returned to grow right up to the small pad on which the (usually green and fairly small) gas well sits.

    1. Ms Latta:

      It is NOT green and soft and quiet and small. A typical natgas fracking drill site is covered with tall condensate and chemical storage tanks, places to park employee cars and maintenance vehicles and numerous tanker trucks that fill up and discharge on large "fuel proof" concrete slabs. Office trailers, huge electricity generating diesels sit on pads of their own, in duplicate, keeping the 24/7 CONSTANT operation going. The pumps and "containment ponds" produce smells that everyone admits are gross, and no-one really knows whether the levels of toxins will make YOU dead, but statistically they are dangerous for human or animal contact.

      The amount of earth moved, concrete poured, CONSTANT deliveries and exports of frack-water and harvested natgas, via huge tanker truck and via newly trenched miles of natgas piping, the 24/7/365 operational noises, lights, movement et al are environmentally disruptive too. These drill sites can be almost literally anywhere they wish (at least under Penna law until a state court's decision favoring local zoning's authority over that of the State - July 26, 2012) so their industrial behaviors can be adjacent to churches, elementary schools, courtrooms, psychiatric facilities and rehab hospitals, and so on.

      The only time they are green and small (and quiet, and safe) is when they never existed at all.

      "Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without." old American saying.

      "Conservation is Survival" current day wisdom

  4. "Carbon pollution"? Now, what on Gaia would that be, pray tell? I've heard of air pollution (NOx, SOx, CO, ground-level ozone, mercury, formaldehyde, lead and particulates) and water pollution (mercury, TOC, BOD, COD, THM, DBP, perchlorate, nitrogen, VOC's and PCB's) and even noise pollution, but what's this new entry? You're not insinuating that our exhaled breath is a pollutant, are you? Or don't you remember the words to Desiderata?

    1. Parma J - may I ask if your favorite rock song or loud orchestral finale is a pollutant when you are hearing it in your living room or concert hall? Now - - is it a pollutant when it drives down the street, car windows wide open, right outside your window at 3:26am, slows, and pulls over to await... whatever.

      Definition of a pollutant doesn't require a Nobel laureate except in the specialty field(s) that person has mastered. It can readily be determined in some cases by the application of "sensus" (Latin, noun, meaning "common sense").

  5. Carbon dioxide traps heat. So do 5 other gasses. When the amounts emitted change the atmospheric concentrations from 280 to about 400 ppm, then the emissions are pollutants. Just take a look at the fact of already increased temperatures. Just look at the fact of already record daily highs being set more than 2 times more frequently than record daily lows. Climate change deniers and those who deny the climate benefits of gas share common traits.

    1. Interesting use of the phrase "climate change denier".

      For your consideration.....


    2. I don't worry much about silly labels like "climate change denier." I'll respond to worse names than that! The term's use is good for flushing out the unthinking, dogmatic believers of end-of-world hysterics.

    3. We haven't had a good appeal to authority yet today, so let's try this one. Here is a Nobel Prize winner in physics backing me up on the pollution issue (check out the 11:25 mark): http://www.mediatheque.lindau-nobel.org/#/Video?id=1410

  6. As long as you don't drill where the wealthy live...keep it in the sacrifice zones-you know where that is, you've been there....Independence Day? We are under the rule and tyranny of the United Oil and Gas Corportations...That rocket's red flare? That's the wasteful and harmful flaring of a gas well...

  7. Many knowledge and information I got from your site, thanks and greetings of friendship from Indonesia.

  8. "coal generation in the US declined from 48% in 2008 to 32% in April 2012; the US led the world in reducing carbon emissions since 2006;"

    Yeah, that's what a double-dip recession, drastically intrusive government regulations, and a leader who hates his country will do to energy usage.

    The US leads the world in economically sucking, big time!

  9. Here are some facts: The US went into recession in November 2007 and the recession ended in July 2009. The country and world nearly went into depression during the 4th quarter of 2008, following the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. The GDP declined 8.9% in the 4th quarter of 2008 and by more than 6% in the first quarter of 2009. This President had nothing to do with that disastrous meltdown that cost each month the loss of 500,000 to 750,000 jobs from October 2008 to March 2009. The stock market crashed from above 14,000 in 2007 and bottomed at 6500 on March 9, 2009. The job losses and depression stopped by February 2010. The stock market roared and returned to above 12,000. More than 4 million private sector jobs have been created since February 2010. No doubt this President inherited the worse economic and national security mess in the history of the country. Not just one screwed up war but two. And one calamitous economy. At this point the nation has not only grown 4 million private sector jobs but the GDP is bigger than it was prior to the 2007-2009 recession/depression.

    The decline in carbon emissions has taken place even though the GDP is bigger than it was in 2007 and much bigger than it was in 2000 or 1996 or 1990. The reason is that gas and renewables are substituting for coal and oil; the country is using energy more efficiently.

    Finally to say that the President hates America says nothing about the President but unfortunately too much about you.

  10. Jeffrey Eric GrantJuly 8, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    John, the current President is a known card-carrying member of the US Communist Party. I would say that places him in the same group as those who "hate America", if that is even possible. Also, what is needed is governmental continuity, otherwise we founder and wither.

    LNG could be a potent form of fuel for our trucking industry, which would offset oil imports -- why has the federal government not done that?

  11. The Natural Gas Act or the Pickens Plan would boost gas in transportation. I agree that would be a great idea. The bill has been stopped in the House by the Republican leadership that has refused to bring it to a vote. The Act came to a vote in the Senate where it was filibustered by the Republicans, as they have done to just about all important legislation. It got 53 votes but not 60. 80% plus of Democratic Senators voted for it. 80% plus of Republican Senators voted against it.

    Cutting foreign oil imports remains vital to the economic and national security of the USA. Substantial progress has been made since 2005 when imports were 60% of our oil consumption. That number was down to 42% in 2011, still too high but big progress. Gas for transportation would help as do biofuels, electric vehicles, fuel efficiency standards and domestic oil production that has boomed since 2008, reversing a 40 year period of decline.

    I am afraid to say that I find your assertion about the President to be irrational.

  12. Jeffrey Eric GrantJuly 9, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    The current makeup of the Federal Government hogties all progress. But what happened when the Democrats ruled the roost? They did not pass legislation that would correct the energy situation. Why did they not do that? Was Healthcare more important? Do they only focus on one issue at a time? Our Federal Government is a huge waste of resources.......

    I'm sorry that you do not believe that Barack signed up to join the US Communist Party. Ufortunately for him, he cannot suppress this fact. However, you and others do pretend that he didn't do that so that you can maintain your position that he is a good guy.