News Story

Shhh, U.S. Leads World In Carbon Emissions Reductions

Technology, market forces credited for reductions

Over the past six years, the United States has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other nation in the world.

Efforts to curb so-called man-made climate change had little or nothing to do with it. Government mandated "green" energy didn't cause the reductions. Neither did environmentalist pressure. And the U.S. did not go along with the Kyoto Protocol to radically cut CO2 emissions. Instead, the drop came about through market forces and technological advances, according to a report from the International Energy Agency.

Breakthroughs in how natural gas is extracted from underground shale formations were the key factors that led to the reductions, the report said. Natural gas has a low carbon footprint and is widely available in the United States. As a result, entrepreneurs are flocking to extract it from new areas.

"It's good news and good news doesn't get reported as much,” John Griffin, executive director of Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan, said of the lack of reporting about the CO2 reductions. "The mainstream media doesn't want to report these kinds of things."

Rep. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said he was unaware of the extent of the fall-off in carbon emissions.

"You know when I found out we've reduced our carbon emissions more than any other country?" Rep. Moss said. "It was when you just told me. So, maybe that says something about how many people even know about it."

Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, a member of the House Energy and Technology Committee, said market forces played a big role in the reductions.

"It's happened because of the move to natural gas along with the slowing economy," Rep. Nesbitt said. "Those are natural causes. Of course the mainstream media wouldn't cover that story. It doesn't fit their narrative."

But the good news might not last for long.

"I'm expecting the worst," Griffin said. "The administration has been looking at more regulation of hydraulic fracking."

Hydraulic fracking, which basically involves shooting water down oil wells or injecting fluids in shale to extract natural gas, has been practiced since 1949, but only recently have more effective methods of extraction been developed.

Rep. Nesbitt said he thinks it's telling that the U.S. environmental movement has turned against hydraulic fracking and started claiming it's an environmental hazard.

"You know about five years ago the environmental groups were supportive of natural gas technology as a cleaner alternative," Rep. Nesbitt said. "All of a sudden when the price of it went down because of the advances in extraction from shale, they're against it.

"I think the reason they turned against it is because they can't control it," Rep. Nesbitt said. "They always want some kind of central control. So what's their real goal? Is it a reduction in carbon emissions, or is it something else?"

Griffin said everyone talks about the U.S. becoming self-sufficient in energy production but their actions aren't always consistent with that idea. Now that there may be a clean, inexpensive way toward self-sufficiency, there's a movement to block it.

"The real question is, to what extent we use our own natural resources or purchase energy from government-owned resources in places like Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait?” Griffin said. "The world uses $84 million worth of oil a day. Should the money we spend on energy go to our own stockholders or to sheiks?"

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.