National climate report emphasizes importance of natural gas and shale
In early May 2014, in conjunction with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the Obama administration released its 2014 National Climate Assessment. According to USGCRP, the purpose of the National Climate Assessment, which is conducted every four years, is to summarize the current and future impacts of climate change on the U.S.
It is produced by more than 300 experts who are directed by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee.
While the report covers many topics, and was extensively covered by the media, there was one key element of the report that didn’t get much coverage: natural gas development. As Energy in Depth points out, media coverage of the report mentioned little about how “natural gas development – especially from shale – is critical to both the future of American energy and the nation’s ability to reduce its carbon footprint.”
- “An increase in natural gas consumption could lead to a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions compared to continued use of other fossil fuels.” (p. 269)
- “After decades of increases, U.S. CO2 emissions from energy use (which account for 97% of total U.S. emissions) declined by around 9% between 2008 and 2012, largely due to a shift … to less CO2-intensive natural gas for electricity production.” (p. 13)
- “Increased use of natural gas in the Midwest has the potential to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.” (p. 424)
- “Recent reductions in natural gas prices are largely due to advances in hydraulic fracturing, which is a drilling method used to retrieve deep reservoirs of natural gas.” (p. 269)
- “The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the percentage of natural gas production from the Gulf of Mexico shifted from 20% in 2005 to 7% in 2012. This is due to the development of shale gas production in other parts of the United States.” (p. 116)
It is evident from the National Climate Assessment that the environmental benefits of natural gas continue to mount – and for good reason. After all, natural gas, which is mostly methane, is only one carbon atom away from being pure hydrogen, and the continued development of natural gas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also lowering U.S. energy costs.