During 2013, the USA will burn less natural gas to make electricity. As a result, US carbon emissions will go up 2.2%, according to the EIA. www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/pdf/steo_full.pdf.
Simply put, and though some heads may explode, when the US burns more gas, total carbon emissions go down, as they did in 2011 and 2012 by 2.1% and 2.9% respectively. And the reverse is also true. Indeed, this year's boom in gas-fired generation is mainly responsible for driving US carbon emissions during 2012 to a 20-year low.
Make no mistake, without the shale gas revolution, and the cheap gas that it made possible, both the gas-fired generation boom in 2012 and the 20-year low in carbon emissions would not have happened.
But next year, the use of gas to make electricity is forecasted to decline significantly and carbon emissions will jump 2.2%, even though non-hydro renewables will continue to grow. They will do so because coal will displace gas and carbon emissions from coal will rise more than 7% in 2013.
When the USA burns less gas, carbon emissions go up! When the USA consumes more gas, carbon, mercury, soot, smog pollution all go down! Those are key environmental facts in the USA and around the world.
Of course, the reason why burning more gas means lower carbon emissions and burning less gas means higher carbon emissions is simple. Gas displaces coal and oil, both of which emit much more carbon than natural gas.
And so attacking or banning gas production means more pollution and not less. That's also a fact that some environmentalists are now beginning to face squarely.