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A new analysis of US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions received wide media attention last week. Preliminary findings from the Rhodium Group showed that after three years of decline, US CO2emissions had the largest single-year jump in two decades last year with an increase of 3.4 percent.

The news prompted some observers to question the role of natural gas in helping to drive future emissions reductions. “New GHG Findings Clash With Industry Defense of Gas As a Climate Strategy,” wrote InsideEPA. Utility Dive called the report a worrying reversal for utilities, “raising questions about whether its recent formula for emissions reductions has outlived its usefulness.”

However, there is a key element of this story that has not been covered, one which I will dig into here. In looking at the data from 2018, it becomes clear that the primary reason for the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 is increased energy use associated with weather and economic growth. Natural gas played a considerable role in meeting these increased energy needs, and it is important to note that overall emissions are still 11 percent below 2007 levels. This begs the question: What would our CO2 emissions look like without natural gas helping to meet our growing energy needs?

What happened in 2018?

Simply put: Temperatures were significantly colder in the winter and considerably warmer during the summer. As a result, Americans used more energy, which caused CO2 to increase year-over-year.

Even as the ball dropped, we saw the makings of a brutal winter. The New Year opened with a bomb cyclone and record cold temperatures in dozens of cities. Based on heating degree days, a measure of heating requirements, January through March of 2018 was 14 percent colder than 2017. These frigid temperatures were felt across the US for longer than usual, making, April, typically the beginning of spring in many areas, the coldest in two decades for the continental US.

heating

Degree days are a measure of heating and cooling requirements. The higher the value, the more intense the heating or cooling requirements. Increases from 2017 to 2018 suggest significantly higher heating and cooling requirements. Source: NOAA

As a result of this nation-wide chill, heating demand spiked. The US set a single-day record for natural gas use as Americans tried to keep their homes and businesses warm. Residential sector energy consumption increased by 15 percent and residential CO2emissions climbed 14 percent for the period of January through April in 2018 when compared with one year prior.

Similarly, the summer was much warmer than usual. The US posted 15 percent more cooling degree days from May through August compared with the same period in 2017. As a result, cooling requirements spiked. During the same period, electric power generation was 4.5 percent higher than 2017, and natural gas use for electric power set monthly records in July and August.


Economic growth also contributed to rising emissions

Meanwhile, economic growth was strong. The Bureau of Economic Analysis showed strong economic growth in the second and third quarters. More people were driving, flying on airplanes, shipping more goods and industrial activity was up.

quarter 768x349

As a result, US petroleum consumption climbed as consumers and businesses used more diesel and jet fuel. (Gasoline demand is projected to have declined slightly.) The Energy Information Administration’s short-term outlook forecasts that petroleum CO2emissions increased two percent in 2018.


The US power sector’s CO2 emissions increased, but structurally it continues to decarbonize

The US likely used a record amount of electricity in 2018 according to initial projections from the US Energy Information Administration. Total retail sales of electricity reached an all-time high because of economic growth, a larger building stock, and the weather. As a result, the US power sector’s CO2 emissions increased.

sales

The US likely used a record amount of electricity in 2018.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook

The US power sector has gone through an unprecedented level of change during the past decade. The increased use of natural gas, renewables deployment, and the retirement of coal-fired power generation has contributed to steady declines in the carbon intensity of this sector.

Moreover, that didn’t change in 2018. Natural gas and renewable generation increased year-over-year, both regarding new power plant capacity and in total electricity generated. The US also retired a record amount of coal-fired power generation capacity, about 15 gigawatts.

Preliminary data through September shows that the carbon intensity of the US power grid—the amount of CO2 released divided by the amount of electricity generated—declined 3.1 percent in 2018.

carbon 768x557

Source: Energy Information Administration, AGA Calculation

US power sector CO2 emissions would have been much higher in 2018 if it weren’t for the structural improvements in electricity generation during the past decade, namely the increased use of natural and renewables as a replacement for coal.

How much higher? To answer this question, we can look at the grid of the past and apply it to today. For example, we can take the carbon emissions intensity of the US power grid in 2008 to the amount of electricity generated in 2018 to get a sense of how much higher emissions would have been.  In this alternate 2018—where we are using more coal, and less natural gas and renewables—the US power sector CO2 emissions are 36 percent higher.

power 768x552

The building sector

In its analysis, the Rhodium Group called buildings and industry “The Forgotten Sectors,” often ignored in clean energy and climate policymaking. Are building emissions lagging the rest of the economy? Disaggregating different components of the building sector is helpful in sorting out the underlying trends.

If we look only at residential buildings, we see very divergent trends by fuel. Specifically, electricity CO2 emissions increased significantly until 2009, at which point that has started to decline.

residential 768x557

Source: Energy Information Administration

Natural gas, however, has been flat for decades. The reason is that residential natural gas customers have been leaders in energy efficiency and CO2 emissions reductions.

customer 768x557

The average residential natural gas customers’ CO2 footprint has cut in half since 1970, a result of improvements to building and appliance energy efficiency, consumer conservation, and the impact of utility energy efficiency programs. This fact is made even more remarkable given the median single-family household is nearly 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. As 30 million more households today are natural gas customers, the result has been largely flat CO2 emissions from residential natural gas consumption for four decades.

How do we continue to reduce the building sector’s carbon footprint?

This progress is good, but how do we continue this success? How do we continue to reduce emissions from consumers and help bring down overall emissions in the buildings sector?

A recent analysis from Enovation Partners suggests that natural gas technologies can contribute more to emissions reductions, and at lower cost. In the study, the consulting group identifies and assessed more than 100 emerging natural gas end-use technologies that could contribute materially to GHG reductions. They found a greenhouse gas reduction potential of 25 to 40 percent on a customer basis. Steeper reductions were possible with more advanced technologies and the integration of renewable natural gas.

ennovation 768x545

Source: Enovation Partners

Integrating efficient natural into long-term resource planning can help achieve continued emissions reductions in the building sector. We need to continue to increase consumer access to high-efficiency natural gas appliances; advance research, development, and deployment of next-generation natural gas technologies; and develop renewable natural gas. Industry efforts and public policy will be key to meeting these objectives.

Conclusion

Preliminary data suggests US carbon dioxide emission increased in 2018, a result of weather-driven energy demand and economic growth. If we dig into the data, there are still many hopeful signs of progress on US carbon dioxide emissions reductions. Among these areas are a decline in CO2 emissions intensity in the power sector and steadily decreasing CO2 emissions per residential natural gas customer. We find that natural gas continues to play a key role in reducing US CO2 emissions. Moreover, importantly, integrating efficient natural as solutions into long-term resource planning can help achieve continued emissions reductions in the building sector.

The following Letter to the Editor in Hometown Oneonta was published today. The local antis are pushing for local renewable energy but will not recognize any form of gas development in the energy mix. From an economic point of view, this is foolish. The Letter below shows that it is also foolish from an environmental aspect as is being proved in present-day Germany. 

Two reports and a conference warn that climate is warming due to human activity, ie. greenhouse gases (GHG.) This warming will "disrupt many areas of life," affecting trade and precipitating conflicts. 

Let's assume for the moment that the data warrants the conclusion -- man-made GHGs are the cause of global warming. How do we solve this problem? What works? 

For smooth transitions to a less carbon-intensive future, the best path is the use of natural gas -- the bridge fuel. Two decades of data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) is testimony to its efficacy. According to the EIA, the substitution of gas for coal in power plants has lowered CO2 in the USA to levels not seen since the late 1980's. This happened while population and GDP grew over the same period. In cities substitution of gas for oil in buildings has eliminated most sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrous oxides (NOX), and particulates, enabling them to meet EPA standards. According to Bloomberg, regardless of our withdrawal from the Paris Accords, the United States is the ONLY nation in the world that has a CHANCE of meeting the Accords' stated goals. No country equals our record in tonnage or percentage of emissions reduced. Fracking has made this possible. 

Therefore, a modest proposal: In order to lower the world's carbonization in the least problematic manner, prioritize the exploration, extraction, transport, sale, and use of natural gas. 

Germany, the world's fourth largest economy and paragon of green virtue, offers a case study. In the year 2000 Germany embarked on as massive transition away from fossil fuels to renewables. The goal was to derive 80% of their energy from renewables by 2050, thus the slogan "80 by 50." With escalating costs in infrastructure, subsidies, and grid maintenance, the price of retail electricity skyrocketed; Germans pay the American equivalent of 37 cents per kilowatt hour. Here in the USA we average about 10 cents. 

What do the Germans get for their money? In spite of massive outlays, solar and wind only produce about 25% of German electricity. Fossil fuels generate double that (53%,) primarily coal (35%,) with lignite (dirty coal) two thirds of that coal. Germany has problems -- in the summer, when they have too much renewable electricity, they have to PAY neighboring countries to take their excess in order to maintain grid stability. In the winter. when there is not enough renewable output, they have to stoke up the coal plants in spite of coal's emissions problems. These inefficiencies create a dilemma. In spite of potential, there's no current means of storing excess renewable electricity. Back-up coal (coal plants must be continually running) produces unacceptable emissions that have remained stubornly constant over the years. The goal remains "80 by 50." The clock is ticking. Nothing's happening. Who you gonna call? 

Gas producers! Gas has half the CO2 and almost none of the oxides, volitile organic compounds (VOCs,) and particulate contained in coal. With gas, Germany has a chance of breaking the present system's stalemate. The 900 mile Nord 2 Pipeline (gas from Russia) is in the planning stage. Dow Chemical will partner with Germany to build a LNG facility. Two more LNG facilities are are in the early phase of planning. Gas will replace coal, just as it did in the United States. And, just as in the United States, CO2 will be reduced. 

Implications for Otsego County? While green intentions are noble, what good are they if they don't work? Economics count. France, anyone? Macron raised the price of gasoline 25 cents to save the planet. The people erupted. Cost/benefit matters. Ask Germany. Germans haven't erupted but Merkle will make deals with Putin to keep the lights on, the houses warm, and a few euros in the ratepayers' pocket. 

The road to carbon neutrality is a long one. Until wind and solar's storage problems are solved, renewables won't work. Until then, gas is the go-to element in the process. Otsego County can put its head in the sand and form energy committees that ignore the most reliable, affordable, scaleable source of energy (as used in the City of Oneonta, here and now) or the County can take full advantage of natural gas produced only a few miles south in Pennsylvania. 

The advantage is -- GAS WORKS! If not fot irrational ideological politics, it could be here! It could be now! 

Keep the faith,

Dick

By Naureen S. Malik BLOOMBERG NEWS DECEMBER 31, 2018
The United States may be exporting natural gas at a record clip, but that hasn’t stopped it from accepting new imports. A tanker with fuel from Nigeria is sitting near the Cove Point import terminal in Maryland, while a second ship with Russian gas is idling outside Boston Harbor.

Pipeline constraints, depleted stockpiles, and a 98-year-old law barring foreign ships from moving goods between US ports are opening the way for liquefied natural gas to be shipped from overseas with prices expected to spike as the East Coast winter sets in.

The two tankers are carrying about 6 billion cubic feet of LNG, enough to power 150,000 homes for a year. At one point Thursday, the ship carrying Nigerian fuel to Cove Point passed another tanker in the Chesapeake Bay filled with US gas that was headed abroad.

‘‘It is ironic,’’’ said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in New York. But the ‘‘super cheap gas’’ produced in the nation’s shale fields ‘‘is trapped down west of the Mississippi unable to serve its own market,’’ he said by phone. ‘‘The gas is where the people aren’t.’’

As usual, it’s all about the money. The companies shipping the gas into Maryland — BP and Royal Dutch Shell — will probably have it stored until freezing East Coast temperatures push prices higher as local suppliers struggle to meet demand, according to Trevor Sikorski, head of natural gas, coal, and carbon with the London-based industry consultant Energy Aspects Ltd. in a note to clients on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the gas being exported out will probably fetch higher prices right now in Europe and Asia. Dominion Energy, which owns the Cove Point terminal, didn’t respond to e-mailed and telephone requests seeking comment.

Other factors are at play as well. For instance, American providers can’t just ship LNG from shale fields in the South because the giant ships that transport the super-chilled fuel sail under foreign flags. Under the 1920 Jones Act, that means none can legally transport LNG to the Northeast from existing export terminals in Louisiana and Texas.

At the same time, even the vast pipeline network feeding the region can quickly develop bottlenecks at a time when stockpiles are sitting at their lowest levels for this time of year since 2002. While production is soaring, strong demand from more and more US power plants using the fuel, along with new export terminals, soaks up much of that new supply.

‘‘There’s still some logistics and pipelines that need to be built to match out to where the demand is,’’ Kilduff said.

While Boston Harbor sees regular LNG traffic from Trinidad, the imports at the Cove Point terminal in Maryland are ‘‘a less expected development,’’ Sikorski said in the Energy Aspects note.

The Northeast’s appetite for LNG imports ‘‘is an outlier in a global market that has seen a very soft’’ fourth quarter for demand, he said.

Further north, a tanker named Exemplar has been loitering just outside Boston Harbor after picking up a cargo from France’s Montoir-de-Bretagne terminal two weeks ago, according to ship tracking data. That ship’s LNG originated from the Yamal LNG facility in Russia, according to Madeleine Overgaard, a market analyst for Kpler.

The fuel was initially supposed to be delivered to Canada on Dec. 21, Overgaard wrote in an e-mail. Instead, Exemplar turned and was repositioned outside of Boston. It remains unclear where the cargo will end up.

Carol Churchill, a spokeswoman for Exelon, which runs the Everett import terminal near Boston, said on Friday that the ship ‘‘is not coming into Everett. All of the LNG that we have contracted for is coming from Trinidad,’’ she said.

President Donald Trump has pushed his administration toward “energy dominance” by cutting environmental regulations on fossil fuel development and opening up federal lands and waters for energy companies.

The Trump administration has dealt significant blows to the environmental legacy of former President Barack Obama, tackling Obama-era regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, while taking the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, an international agreement to cut emissions and combat climate change that the Obama administration signed the U.S. onto in 2015 and pushed heavily in its final months.

 

Opened Up Massive Oil and Gas Reserves in Alaska

The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

The Department of the Interior put forward a proposal on Dec. 20 to allow oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Preserve (ANWR). The proposal would open up ANWR’s coastal plain, known as the 1002 Area, to oil and gas development and settle an issue Congress and environmentalists have fought over for decades.

Trump and Republicans in Congress opened up ANWR’s 1002 Area to drilling in an amendment tacked on the tax bill passed in December 2017. The Trump administration announced in April it would review an application to drill in the 1002 Area, a necessary first step to tapping into the region’s natural resources.

The 1002 Area covers 1.5 million acres of ANWR’s 19 million acres in northern Alaska. The reserve was designated by former President Jimmy Carter, but the coastal plain was carved out for potential future development. ANWR contains an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to a 1998 assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Alaska’s congressional delegation has fought for more oil and gas drilling in the state for decades, but environmentalists and Democrats in Congress have largely opposed such legislation.

Repealed Obama’s Landmark Clean Power Plan

The Trump administration began deconstructing and replacing one of Obama’s landmark climate regulations, the Clean Power Plan. The Obama-era regulation, which the Trump administration called “social engineering,” targeted coal plants’ emissions. It forced utilities to pay for costly upgrades or retire coal plants early and replace them with natural gas or green energy power plants.

Trump’s replacement rule, known as the Affordable Clean Energy Plan, rolls back strict standards and focuses on cutting emissions from existing power plants. The new rule also hands more authority over to states to regulate power plant emissions.

Obama meant for the Clean Power Plan to bring the U.S. energy sector in line with the goals of the Paris climate accord, though the rule itself would have had little effect on climate change. Trump undercut the need for the strict regulation when he announced in June 2017 that the U.S. would leave the international climate change agreement.

US Became the World’s Largest Oil and Gas Producer

The United States overtook Saudi Arabia and Russia in September to become the world’s largest oil producer. U.S. production of oil roughly doubled over eight years from 2010 to 2018 due to an oil boom brought on by a more efficient process known as hydraulic fracturing.

“U.S. crude oil production exceeded that of Saudi Arabia for the first time in more than two decades,” the Energy Information Administration reported at the time. “In June and August, the United States surpassed Russia in crude oil production for the first time since February 1999.”

The oil boom predates the Trump administration but was largely due to oil production on state and private lands. Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda has focused on stripping away strict environmental regulations and cutting down drilling permit approval times to encourage the oil boom to expand on federal land as well.

Repealed Obama’s Methane Flaring Rule

The Trump administration repealed an Obama-era regulation in September costing oil and gas companies hundreds of millions of dollars to develop on federal land. The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, enacted in 2016, was meant to curb methane emissions on federal land.

Environmentalists supported the rule to tamp down release of the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and combat climate change. The regulation was a severe drag on oil and gas companies, and repealing the measure is expected to save the energy industry roughly $1 billion over the next decade.

The U.S. currently leads developed countries in cutting back emissions despite every other country supporting a global commitment to combat climate change, the Paris climate accord. Methane emissions in particular have dropped in the U.S. since 2011. Emissions from onshore natural gas production fell nearly 14 million metric tons between 2011 and 2016 while natural gas production continued to rise, according to a December 2017 report by Energy In Depth.

A Record-Smashing $1 Billion Oil and Gas Lease Sale

The Trump administration more than doubled the record for most money made in a single oil and gas lease sale. The sale, which covered 142 parcels in New Mexico in September, grossed nearly $1 billion, shattering the record and bringing in more revenue than every lease sale in 2017 combined. Half of the revenue from the sale went to the state of New Mexico.

Several months after the record-setting lease sale, the Department of the Interior discovered the largest oil and gas reserve ever found in the U.S. The Delaware Basin, which lies beneath parts of New Mexico and Texas, holds an estimated 46.3 billion barrels of unrecovered oil and 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

Trump proposed in January revising a five-year offshore drilling plan designed under the Obama administration. The revised program would open nearly all federal water to potential offshore oil and gas development, a near complete reversal of the Obama policy.

The Trump administration is expected to come out with a final plan in 2019 revising the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Program designed under Obama. Meanwhile, DOI has continued to schedule and hold offshore lease sales under the Obama-era plan

The DOI announced in September an offshore oil and gas lease sale to take place in March 2019 that would include 78 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Although the response turned out favorable to the project, Pennsylvania DEP’s Atlantic Sunrise hearings were unnecessary concessions to pipeline opponents.

Something very interesting happened over the last two days as Pennsylvania DEP conducted four public hearings on the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project. Our buddy Jim Willis, over at Marcellus Drilling News, noted yesterday the first two hearings put the fractivist shills at StateImpactPA into a total funk as project supporters swamped pipeline opponents. I attended the hearing in Bloomsburg last night to testify and saw the same thing. Atlantic Sunrise supporters, including labor, were organized and out in large numbers. We were in the game, the way it has to be played.

Still, it annoys me that DEP gave pipeline opponents for separate opportunities to vent over what are no more than technical decisions. That’s what I spoke about.

 Screen Shot 2017 06 14 at 8.32.05 AM

pipeline opponents

My testimony (which WBRE covered here) was intended as constructive criticism for a DEP that I assumed operated with good intentions. It was as follows:

I am a consulting planner with over 40 years of experience consulting with businesses and communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I also publish a blog supporting natural gas because I see what it’s done economically for our region and nation.

The Atlantic Sunrise permit applications under Chapters 102 and 105 should be approved by DEP for a very simple reason and it is that any DEP decision with respect to Chapters 102 and 105 should simply be a matter of technical compliance.

Both chapters consist of very specific objective criteria and standards which shouldn’t be influenced by public opinion as to anything but compliance with those criteria and standards.

Significantly in this regard, both chapters provide only that “the Department may, at its discretion, hold a public hearing.” Hearings aren’t mandatory because the subject is technical, not political. The regulations, moreover, do not provide for multiple hearings but, rather, “a” hearing on each application.

Whatever the real intentions of your agency, which I assume to be fair, what is going on in this case is little more than DEP providing a public ranting opportunity for those who wish to attack the applications, even though many more supporters appear to be coming out than pipeline opponents.

Still, as a supporter of the project there is very little for me to say other than to point out the Atlantic Sunrise project has been extensively reviewed by both FERC and DEP, and that the applications meet the Chapter 102 and 105 requirements.

Project opponents, though, will be here tonight and at three more completely unnecessary hearings to attack the project on everything imaginable having nothing whatsoever to do with Chapter 102 and 105 criteria. They will talk about their opposition to fossil fuels, their hatred for the oil and gas industry and their ideology, but very little about Chapter 102 having to do with erosion and sedimentation control or Chapter 105 having to do with dam safety and waterways management.

I urge DEP to simply follow its own rules. If it does so, there is no basis for anything but an approval of the Atlantic Sunrise project. The voluminous materials submitted to both FERC and DEP document compliance to the nth degree. I further urge DEP to stop enabling pipeline project opponents by conducting redundant public hearings that serve no purpose other than to allow those opponents to vent with a view toward getting media coverage of their antics. The regulations are straight-forward. Just enforce them and don’t playing fractivist games with pipeline opponents.

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