Clinton Advisor: Fracking Has Cut Greenhouse Gas By 12 percent

Monday, 22 Apr 2013 03:45 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Fracking, the controversial method of extracting gas from the ground that is derided by environmentalists, is the main reason for the 12 percent fall in greenhouse gases in the United States, claims Harvard professor Jeffrey Frankel.

The former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, adds, “No other factor comes close to providing a plausible explanation” as to why carbon dioxide figures have plunged.

“Against all expectations, U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, since peaking in 2007, have fallen by 12 percent as of 2012, back to 1995 levels,” Frankel wrote. “The primary reason, in a word, is ‘fracking.’ Or, in 11 words: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to recover deposits of shale gas.”

Frankel rules out other probable explanations such as the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, because the United States never adopted it, and lower economic activity, because even though the United States is still recovering from a recession, GDP is still higher than Europe where emissions have increased since 2009.

Why has Frankel concluded that fracking is the only “plausible explanation” for the fall in emissions?

Ten years ago, the United States started developing terminals for the purpose of importing natural gas because it was thought that the United States had reached the limit of how much it could produce domestically, but as fracking has increased, there is now so much natural gas “that these facilities are now being converted to export liquefied natural gas.”

According to Frankel, natural gas emits only half as much CO2 as coal.

Since 2007, the United States now uses natural gas to generate electricity 37 percent more than coal. It is close behind coal as the main source of power in the United States. And while the use of coal is decreasing here, it has increased in Europe as they close down nuclear power facilities without a “natural-gas boom” to rely on.

He argues that solar and wind power is not enough to replace coal as a source of power, while “natural gas can.” And while safety needs to be a concern, that the risks do not outweigh the benefits, especially compared with other sources of power and energy.

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