New EIA Data Show Energy Related GHG Emissions Falling Significantly While Natural Gas Use Rises

Today, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest analysis on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, finding that energy related CO2 emissions fell in almost every state in the nation from 2005 to 2013.

EIA’s newest study looked at state-wide energy-related CO2 emissions in both absolute and per capita terms, while also detailing the primary sources of fuel for each state. The study defined CO2 emissions as being used to produce electricity and was a follow up on a previous EIA report, Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the State Level, 2000-13.

per capita energy-related carbon

According to EIA’s findings, as seen in the above graphic, even states that have historically high levels of CO2 emissions per capita have seen significant reductions since 2005. This dramatic decline in emissions can be attributed in large part to the hydraulic fracturing boom, which allows states to increase their use of natural gas for electricity generation.

North Dakota, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas all took big steps in reducing CO2, and EIA estimates that over that period, natural gas consumption went up 57 percent, 29 percent, 74 percent, and 17 percent for those states respectively.

By the same token, three of the five states that had the lowest emissions per capita – Rhode Island, California, and New York – all use natural gas as a primary source for electricity, according to a previous EIA study, which looked into electricity sources for states with the least carbon dioxide emissions per capita. Rhode Island experienced a 10 percent increase in natural gas consumption, while California had a 4 percent increase and New York had a 25 percent increase.

Energy In Depth has previously reported on how domestic carbon emissions have declined to twenty year lows, with natural gas being the catalyst. The EIA has released study after study to support these claims.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) also released a new report detailing how natural gas will continue to play a fundamental role in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. According to IEA’s study,

“There are good reasons to be upbeat about the future for natural gas: its relative abundance; its environmental advantages compared with other fossil fuels; the flexibility and adaptability that make it a valuable component of a gradually decarbonizing electricity and energy system.” (Emphasis added)

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said it himself: “About half of that progress we have made [on greenhouse gas emissions] is from the natural-gas boom.”

With the President’s trip to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris next week, EIA’s study demonstrates the extent to which the United States has been a leader in reducing emissions, and how vital natural gas production has been in this endeavor.

It’s clear that shale gas is a viable solution for climate change, and, with an ever increasing demand for energy (as high as 33 percent worldwide according to IEA), we can ill-afford to ignore one of our cleaner and most abundant sources of fuel.


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