Natural Gas NOW
The statistics from the shale revolution are undeniable. It has saved the environment and the economy while delivering a real shot at energy independence.
Yesterday’s Today In Energy had a great post on the national drop in sulfur dioxide emissions as a consequence of converting power plants to natural gas. It didn’t use the words “shale revolution” and it pointed out other factors, but it also made clear gas was the big reason for the SO2 decline:
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions produced in the generation of electricity at power plants in the United States declined by 73% from 2006 to 2015, a much larger reduction than the 32% decrease in coal-fired electricity generation over that period. From 2014 to 2015, the most recent year with complete power plant emissions data, SO2 emissions fell 26%—the largest annual drop in percentage terms in the previous decade. Nearly all electricity-related SO2 emissions are associated with coal-fired generation…
Electricity generation from coal fell 14% from 2014 to 2015. This drop was mostly offset by an increase in electricity generation from natural gas, but because natural gas has only trace amounts of sulfur, the net effect resulted in fewer SO2 emissions.
I decided to dig deeper into the Energy Information Administration (EIA) data and what I found is shockingly good news from the shale revolution.
I can sum up what I found with a chart plotting EIA numbers for emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in Pennsylvania, my home state:
Since 2007 when the shale revolution began and natural gas became an economic substitute for coal, SO2 emissions have plummeted by 77% and are at their lowest point since at least 1990. NOx emissions have dropped 43% since 2007 and are also at their lowest point since at least 1990. CO2 emissions, too, are at their lowest point since at least 1990 and have declined by 30% since 2007. There’s simply no doubt about it; Pennsylvania air is much, much cleaner and this big drop-off (very noticeable graphically) occurred with the shale revolution.
And, here is the chart for US emissions as a whole from electricity generation:
Generally, the same trends are apparent with SO2 down 72% from 2007 and NOx and CO2 down 50% and 20%, respectively. CO2 is up slightly since 1990 although lower than anytime since 1992.
The shale revolution has taken us several steps toward energy independence. It is restoring our role as a exporter. It has produced nothing less than economic revival in rural areas. It has delivered billions of dollars of savings to urban consumers. It has saved the environment by cleaning the air and giving Prius and Volt owners cleaner electricity to run those electric cars.
Thank God for the shale revolution!