Fact Sheet: Hydraulic Fracturing No. 1 Reason U.S. Leads World in CO2 Reductions

Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE) hosted a “Get Off Fossil Fuels Festival” in Carbondale on Sunday as part of nationwide “Climate Week” activities aimed at addressing global warming.

So what is SAFE’s proposed climate change solution? Ironically, based on this WSIL-TV interview, it’s pushing for the elimination the very technology that has enabled the United States to lead the world in carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions this century. The Carbondale event served as a petition drive to ban hydraulic fracturing (“fracking) in Illinois, an action that would do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions. From the interview:

“The groups want Illinois to become the fifth state to ban fracking, something they say Governor JB Pritzker alluded to in his campaign. Organizer, Rich Whitney, says thousands have already signed their petition.”

Whitney told WSIL:

“’We’re partnering with groups like Food and Water Watch and other groups that are helping in this effort. So, we’re confident that over the next couple of months we should be able to turn in thousands and thousands of signatures to Governor Pritzker to send this message: ‘Hey, let’s take care; let’s get off fossil fuels in Illinois.’”

Not only would a hydraulic fracturing ban – both at the state and/or federal level – prove to be an economic disaster, it would likely lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. And you don’t have to take our word for it.

As the following new IPRB fact sheet illustrates, numerous experts, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), International Energy Agency (IEA) and U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), credit increased natural gas use in the United States – made possible by fracking – for most of our country’s world-leading CO2 reductions over the past 15-plus years.

Even the Environmental Defense Fund – hardly an industry cheerleader – recently largely credited increased natural gas use for dramatic declines in CO2 emissions from electricity generation in recent years.

“Our analysis, published in Environmental Research Letters used an approach called index decomposition analysis and found that natural gas substituting for coal and petroleum coupled with large increases in renewable energy generation —primarily wind — were responsible for 60% and 30%, respectively, of the decline in CO2 emissions from the U.S. power sector between 2005 and 2015.”

Hydraulic fracturing has been safely used to complete vertical wells in the Illinois Basin for decades. More recently, it’s been applied to horizontal wells in places like the Permian, Williston and Appalachian basins to help the United States re-emerge as the world leader in oil and natural gas production.

Not only has the latter development strengthened our economy and enhanced our energy security – the recent attack on Saudi Arabian oil processing facility is just the latest example of the latter – it has helped the United States significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing cheap and plentiful natural gas to replace higher-emitting fuels.

In the meantime, China has seen its CO2 emissions nearly triple. One would think that would be the focus of “Keep It In the Ground” groups such as SAFE, but they seem more intent on trying to destroy a local oil and gas industry that provides more than 14,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact.