Natural Gas Playing Key Power Generation Role, Reducing Emissions

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April 14, 2017
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Source: IEA, 3/17/17

A series of recent reports indicate that the outlook is bright, from both an economic and an environmental standpoint, for natural gas.  In fact, the environmental impacts are directly related to economics.  

New data from federal and international agencies confirms that the United States is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions.  According to the International Energy Agency, the “surge in shale gas” drove U.S. carbon emissions to their lowest level since 1992, or the last time Barry Bonds donned a Pirates uniform. 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration also announced this week that “energy-related carbon dioxide emissions decreased” in 2015, continuing a trend where emissions have declined “6 out of the past 10 years.”

This significant clean air progress tied to American natural gas comes amid continued economic growth, a “cause for optimism,” IEA's executive director stated. “Emissions in the United States last year were at their lowest level since 1992,” the international agency reports, “a period during which the economy grew by 80%.”

Key Agency Findings include:

  • EIA: The decline in carbon emissions occurred despite growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.6% as other factors more than offset the growth in GDP.

  • IEA: The biggest drop in carbon emissions came from the United States. Carbon dioxide emissions fell 3% while the economy grew by 1.6%.

In February of this year, EIA reported new natural gas power plants contributed to the “largest amount of added capacity” to the U.S. electricity grid since 2012, which is a trend that is expected to continue. In fact, EIA data shows that natural gas is now the largest source of U.S. electricity generation.

Natural gas, primarily from shale deposits like the Marcellus has been the key to improving our air according to a series of government and independent reports.

One example of this is from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, which confirmed that thanks to expanded use of natural gas, America leads the world in carbon emission reductions. State data parallels this and shows that methane emissions continue to fall all while natural gas production has grown exponentially since the first Marcellus well was drilled by Range Resources in Washington County. 

In other promising news for southwestern Pennsylvania, there is a long list of natural gas-fired power generating projects either under construction or proposed across Pennsylvania and beyond according to the Observer-Reporter.  And in 2018, the United States is expected to become the world's third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).  Range Resources has signed multiple LNG export contracts, with expectations that those projects will provide a significant sources of incremental demand growth for the United States.   That increased demand will have direct, positive economic and environmental impacts on the communities where natural gas is produced in southwestern Pennsylvania.  

This article is sponsored by Range Resources.

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