The United States has become one of the few nations in the world to reduce their CO2 emissions. It isn’t due to any significant change to government energy policy. In fact it is because of one energy trend that has occurred in recent years that environmentalists hate: fracking.
Here is a chart courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI):
Here is a brief explanation from the AEI’s Mark Perry:
According to data released recently by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), CO2 emissions from America’s electric power sector have dropped by more than 25% since 2007, reversing a multi-decade increase, and they fell last year to a 28-year low, dropping to the lowest level since 1988 (see chart above). What accounts for that historically unprecedented reduction in CO2 emissions over the last nine years from generating the nation’s electricity? Increased electric power generation from renewables like wind and solar? That might have helped a little. But solar as an energy source accounted for only 0.90% of the electric power generated in the US last year, an almost insignificant amount. Wind energy is growing faster than solar as a source of electric power, and was responsible for 5.6% of America’s electric power last year, so that played a minor role in the reduction of CO2 emissions from the electric power sector. But the big story has been the increasing substitution of natural gas for coal as a fuel source for electric power, and the resulting huge reduction of CO2 emissions from coal’s decreasing contribution to generating electricity. Energy-related coal emissions from electric power were lower last year than in any year since 1978, nearly 40 years ago.
Will the environmentalists celebrate fracking on Earth Day? Probably not.