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U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from energy use during the first quarter of 2012 were the lowest in two decades for any January-March period. Normally, CO2 emissions during the year are highest in the first quarter because of strong demand for heat produced by fossil fuels.
[G]overnment officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.
Both government and industry experts said the biggest surprise is how quickly the electric industry turned away from coal. In 2005, coal was used to produce about half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. The Energy Information Agency said that fell to 34 percent in March, the lowest level since it began keeping records nearly 40 years ago.
Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for "cautious optimism" about potential ways to deal with climate change. ...Mann called it "ironic" that the shift from coal to gas has helped bring the U.S. closer to meeting some of the greenhouse gas targets in the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming, which the United States never ratified.
"There's a very clear lesson here. What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources," said Roger Pielke Jr., a climate expert at the University of Colorado.
Inpi] a little-noticed technical report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that total U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels.
The International Energy Agency said the U.S. has cut carbon dioxide emissions more than any other country over the last six years. Total U.S. carbon emissions from energy consumption peaked at about 6 billion metric tons in 2007. Projections for this year are around 5.2 billion, and the 1990 figure was about 5 billion.
Environmentalists say that the fluids can pollute underground drinking water supplies and that methane leaks from drilling cause serious air pollution and also contribute to global warming. The industry and many government officials say the practice is safe when done properly. But there have been cases in which faulty wells did pollute water, and there is little reliable data about the scale of methane leakage.
"The Sierra Club has serious doubts about the net benefits of natural gas," said Deborah Nardone, director of the group's Beyond Natural Gas campaign.
"Without sufficient oversight and protections, we have no way of knowing how much dangerous pollution is being released into Americans' air and water by the gas industry. For those reason, our ultimate goal is to replace coal with clean energy and energy efficiency and as little natural gas as possible."
Wind supplied less than 3 percent of the nation's electricity in 2011 according to EIA data, and solar power was far less. Estimates for this year suggest that coal will account for about 37 percent of the nation's electricity, natural gas 30 percent, and nuclear about 19 percent.
Some worry that cheap gas could hurt renewable energy efforts.
Despite unanswered questions about the environmental effects of drilling, the gas boom "is actually one of a number of reasons for cautious optimism," Mann said. "There's a lot of doom and gloom out there. It is important to point out that there is still time" to address global warning.
Originally posted by grey580
How does this affect global climate study?
An article of faith among many current environmentalists is that a particular method of extracting natural gas from the earth -- hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- is dangerous.
The EPA got into the act by conducting it own sampling study of private drinking water.
The results were released today and could not be more clear: There was no groundwater poisoning.
"Based on the outcome of [its] sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency," the EPA press release says.
The water does have contaminants ... but none that can conclusively be tied to gas drilling. Instead, all the chemicals found in these few samples of Dimock drinking water are present naturally.
The basic premise of alternative energy is that widespread deployments of wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles will slash hydrocarbon consumption, reduce CO2 emissions, and give us a cleaner, greener, and healthier planet. That premise, however, is fatally flawed, because our planet cannot produce enough non-ferrous industrial metals to make a meaningful difference, and the prices of those metals are even more volatile than the prices of the hydrocarbons that alternative energy hopes to supplant.
USGS scientists and their colleagues reviewed the scientific literature on the effects of utility-scale energy development (wind and solar) and operation on terrestrial, non-flying wildlife. They found that while there is a growing and comparatively large body of information on the effects of wind energy on birds and bats, little information exists in the peer-reviewed scientific literature to evaluate the effects of wind or solar facilities on terrestrial wildlife in the world, including in offshore environments. Potential effects of such facilities include habitat modification and fragmentation, as well as effects from noise, dust, and roads and traffic.
Hysterical reactions and unsubstantiated beliefs or suspicions prove nothing about fracking.
Originally posted by syrinx high priest
any thread that has the phrase "thank god for fracking" needs to be dumped
Originally posted by jdub297
You seem to believe that these You Tube clips are brand new, and that I;ve never seem them, or any of dozens of others. I don't feel the need to publish the results of every safely fracked well, or to address every mistaken or misleading attribution of problems to fracking. Education of the public would go a long way toward making valid criticisms stand out,as well as stopping spurious ones in their tracks before their published without corroboration on YouTube.
Just the opinion of someone who actually works in the mining industry itself and has seen the damage first hand caused by drilling in or around underground water tables without a complete understanding of what’s involved.
CO2 Levels Lowest in 20 Years Due to Markets, NOT Government: DoE EIA
U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from energy use during the first quarter of 2012 were the lowest in two decades
Originally posted by jdub297
I completely understand and appreciate your concern. But "drilling in or around groundwater" is much broader than fracking. You seem to presume that all fracked shale-gas fields lie above potable groundwater.
Again, coming from South Texas, and depending upon the Edwards, Carrizo, and Gulf Coast aquifers for 100% of my usable water, I am well aware of the dangers to and the value of these resources. I worked for a while for the LCRA trying to preserve our surface water resources and aquifer recharge zones. I care deeply about pure water.
However, people seem to think that injection wells are a new phenomenon.
They are equally unaware that for almost 100 years injection wells have been used to dispose of wastes, recover oil and sulfur, and enhance production by injecting foreign substances directly into the aquifer!
So, I can appreciate your concern.
But I hope you can understand my consternation at all of the hyperbole about fracking near water, when we've been shooting crap straight into it for dozens of decades and dozens of purposes, without as much as a peep from the MSM, environmentalists, or mining engineers.
Sometimes, a little perspective helps us understand relative risks and relative threats.
So, when I speak of "education," it means that there are long-standing, present, verifiable threats to our water resources that are more serious than what we are hearing about fracking.
The truth is, it is the relation of fracking to fossil fuels that drives this hysteria. This is a "green energy" driven issue, more than a clean water issue. They majority of activists are pissed-off by natural gas production.
No one seems to give a damn that we've injected uranium, salt water, human waste, industrial waste directly into water supplies since the early 20th Century.
Not even mining engineers.
They're angry about natural gas production.
Unfortunately this is highly US specific as natural gas in the rest of the world is massively more expensive than it is in the US, and in most places coal is still far cheaper than gas.