US off track to reach climate goals as oil and gas production expand

(The Guardian, 24 Jan 2019) US will become increasingly reliant on natural gas and could become a net energy exporter by next year.

The US could become a net energy exporter by next year as oil and gas production expands, according to new projections from the Energy Information Administration.

America is becoming increasingly reliant on natural gas – a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change but less so than coal. Solar power will grow rapidly too. Both will replace nuclear and coal power plants that are more expensive.

But the rapid shift toward natural gas and a slow-down in weaning off coal will put the US far behind the global climate change goals scientists say are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures.

EIA data projects that by 2050, carbon dioxide levels from energy use will decline only about 2.5%, starting at 5,147m metric tons in 2017 and ending at 5,019 in 2050.

While previous presentations from the government agency have highlighted the outlook for greenhouse gases, this year’s did not. An official instead provided the figures via email. Trump administration officials have frequently downplayed and disregarded climate risks, although the EIA typically stays out of politics.

The country has imported more energy than it has exported since 1953, EIA said. Donald Trump’s administration has pursued an agenda of what it calls “energy dominance”, while also rolling back climate rules. EIA administrator Linda Capuano noted that “being a net exporter does not mean the United States is independent of international trade”.

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The Guardian, 24 Jan 2019: US off track to reach climate goals as oil and gas production expand