Report: U.S. Shale Means Fewer Emissions and a Stronger Economy

A new paper from ConservAmerica, “America at a Crossroads: Powering a New American Century” highlights the environmental benefits and economic opportunities that come with continued U.S. shale development. Thanks to advances in drilling technology, the United States is producing record amounts of clean-burning natural gas—creating jobs, wealth and decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along the way. As the report states:

“America’s natural gas reserves, and the home-grown technology to access it, have led the world in greenhouse gas (GHG) and toxin emissions reductions, and will be the basis of a growing domestic economy” (p.12).

ConservAmerica recognizes that “the energy industry has always been one of the primary economic engines of our nation in terms of wealth building, job creation, and providing other industries lower energy prices than global competitors.” The report emphasizes that if the United States government fully supports the shale revolution, American citizens as well as the international community would substantially benefit. From the report:

“The United States should be celebrating its current position. We’ve found new, accessible reserves of relatively clean natural gas that should permit us to continue to drive down GHG and toxin emissions from electricity generation for the foreseeable future” (p.8)

Natural gas continues to be an important fuel, reducing air emissions and providing baseload power to renewables. Not surprisingly, the authors underline that American ingenuity, alongside the surge in natural gas use, has made the United States a world leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions:

“Since 2005, the United States has led the world in reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Between 2005 and 2011, we cut more than 509 million metric tons—five times the next leading country” (p.2).

ConservAmerica’s conclusions fall in line with numerous other economic and environmental studies on shale development. A recently released report from the American Gas Foundation and IHS CERA, “Fueling the Future with Natural Gas: Bringing it Home,” touts the extraordinary economic benefits of shale:

“Unconventional oil and gas activity and energy-related chemical manufacturing, directly or indirectly, were responsible for 2.1 million jobs, nearly $284 billion in value added to GDP and more than $74 billion in government tax revenues in 2012. By 2025, these contributions are expected to grow to 3.9 million jobs, $533 billion (constant 2012 $) in value added to GDP, and $138 billion (constant 2012 $) in government revenues” (ES-2).

Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that, thanks to the increased use of natural gas over the last decade, there have been significant reductions in GHG emissions. According to the NOAA report:

“As a result of the increased use of natural gas, Co2 emissions from U.S. fossil-fuel power plants were 23% lower in 2012 than they would have been” without that increase in natural gas use (p.1).

“Further reductions in these emissions can follow by converting a larger fraction of U.S. electric power production to natural gas, and by ensuring that all natural gas power plants are equipped with the latest combined cycle technology” (p.9).

As ConservAmerica highlights, “we have an unparalleled opportunity to grow our economy, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and create wealth for more Americans.” As the United States continues to lead in energy production, while also reducing its environmental impacts, it’s no surprise that the White House and top regulators alike stand behind the safety and economic promise of shale development.

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