Study: thanks to fracking, we don't need Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP) to meet Paris climate target

From the “thanks to fracking, the biggest driver of lower carbon dioxide emissions has been declining natural gas prices” department.

Even without the clean power plan, US can achieve Paris Agreement emissions reductions

CMU researchers point out that there are many paths to compliance

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have calculated that the U.S. can meet–or even beat–the near-term carbon dioxide emission reductions required by the United Nations Paris Agreement, despite the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Published in an Environmental Science & Technology viewpoint, the CMU team used data from U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2017 Annual Energy Outlook to examine projected power sector carbon dioxide emissions to determine if the CPP emission targets for 2020, 2025 and 2030 can still be met. They found that emissions declined from 2.7 billion tons to an estimated 1.9 billion tons and revealed a strong link to natural gas prices as being a driving market force. The decrease puts U.S. emissions reduction at the CPP’s planned 2025 target this year.

Figure 1. Historical and projected CO2 emissions from the U.S. power sector in relation to natural gas prices (as delivered to electric generators). Projected emissions and gas prices are national averages based on scenarios in the AEO 2017 for the reference case and the high oil and gas resource and technology case.

“The U.S. has already come quite far in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The biggest driver of lower carbon dioxide emissions has been declining natural gas prices, which has allowed the industry to replace coal-fired power plants economically with cleaner natural gas power plants–and without a costly regulatory mandate,” said Jeffrey J. Anderson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

Additional actions are needed to assure longer-term compliance with Paris Agreement objectives–and to safeguard against the impact of a rise in natural gas prices. For example, regulatory and legislative focuses should be on maintaining the trajectory that the market forces have created to sustain the current transition period into the intermediate future. To meet longer-term and deeper de-carbonization goals, there will be a need for proactive regulatory activity. In addition, incentivizing low or zero carbon dioxide-emitting sources, improving energy efficiency and encouraging repowering and retrofitting options are other important avenues to de-carbonizing the power sector.

“Our work shows that the U.S. power sector could meet the Paris Agreement goals even without the Clean Power Plan, and that the path to compliance can be a collection of politically feasible, minimally invasive actions–if we plan ahead and start now,” said David Rode, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Social and Decision Sciences.


In addition to Anderson and Rode, Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy, and Haibo Zhai, associate research professor of engineering and public policy, worked on this research and article.

Read the viewpoint:

While the article doesn’t come right out and say it, we owe this independence from the CPP to shale gas fracking:

U.S. Natural Gas Marketed Production, 1900 – current, data from US EIA. Items in red are my additions.

Modern day fracking didn’t begin until the 1990s. This originated when George P. Mitchell created a new technique, which took hydraulic fracturing, and combined it with horizontal drilling. The Shale Oil Boom. The technology known as hydraulic fracturing isn’t new, and has been around for 100 plus years. Source – Business Insider

Here’s more recent EIA data with the forecast production added:

In this report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they forecast even greater gains from shale gas production out to 2040.



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Isn’t innovation inconvenient?

Bryan A

Frac On
Hey, kid, frac for oil
Frac on, ooh my soul
Hey, kids, you boogey, too, did ya?
Hey shout, CO2’s clear
feeds all the plants in the biosphere
Hey, did you frac for oil, frac on
And where do we go from here?
Which is a way that’s clear
Now we’re gonna Frac for Gas, energy
CO2’s keepin’ the biosphere green
See it growin’ on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean
(James Dean)
And where do we go from here?
Frackin’ shows us a way that’s clear
Now we’re gonna Frac for Gas, energy
CO2’s keepin’ the biosphere green
See it growin’ on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean
(Jimmy Dean)
Frac on
Frac on
Frac on…


The problem is that reducing CO2 emissions was only the means. The goal was to reduce the standard of living of the west and force us to accept more government control of our lives.


Indeed, the climate change hustle is merely a Trojan Horse packaging a the Left’s neo-Marxist ideology.


No “Neo” about it; it’s pure Marx.
When a totalitarian says all the socialist countries implemented Marx wrong, notice they all IMPLEMENTED it in the SAME WAY!


You can call it “pure Marx”, but I don’t believe their aim/intention is bring about a private property free, or “classless society”, to say the very least . . I think it’s just a proven way to sell controlled society, and that’s the aim/intention.

Tom Halla

The goal of the CPP was to push “green energy”, not actually reduce pollution. That also begs the question of whether CO2 is “pollution”.


That would be NO!

AGW is not Science


Henning Nielsen

“Modern day fracking didn’t begin until the 1990s. This originated when George P. Mitchell created a new technique, which took hydraulic fracturing, and combined it with horizontal drilling.”
So, a Nobel Peace Prize for Mr. Mitchell? For saving the planet?

Mitchell, Aubrey McClendon and the other pioneers of the shale boom are certainly more deserving of Nobel prizes than Al Gore and the IPCC.


Climate activists claim the world is endangered by higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and yet they fight nuclear, hydroelectric and natural gas which are the only methods of power production that can have a significant impact on lowering carbon dioxide levels. It seems apparent that they are not interested in a solution to the purported problem, they seem only interested in preserving the ‘problem’ and the political power it entails.

Yep.comment image
If reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important, nuclear power is the obvious answer. If reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a reasonable cost is important, natural gas is the obvious answer.
If the goal is to exaggerate and perpetuate a minor problem as leverage for more socialism, wind and solar are the obvious answers.

Bryan A

I don’t see a Net Cost or Benefit Bar for Wind
Is that because there isn’t any?

Wind breaks even.

AGW is not Science

Doesn’t look like it to me, and that’s even *including* the BS metric of “avoided emissions” as a “benefit,” when it’s completely unnecessary. “Benefit” = 250, “cost” = ~260 before you deduct the BS “avoided emissions” pseudo-benefit.

Chuck in Houston

David M wrote “Wind breaks even.”
Let me be the first to say I lol’d.

J Mac

Chuck In Houston,
Yep – It fracked me up also!

Phil R

I was going to ask, is that another of your “break wind” jokes? 🙂

Bryan A

Wind breaks even…That would depend on who’s breaking it.

You’ve just noticed, dahun?

Phil Rae

Totally agree that hydraulic fracturing in shale has been the driver for the revolution in gas and light tight oil (LTO) production in the US. However, the article contains some misleading statements. Explosive fracturing is NOT the same as hydraulic fracturing – ithe former is much more dangerous and unpredictable than hydraulic fracturing. Acidizing (which is usually carried out below rock fracturing pressures) was first introduced in the late 1890s by Herbert Frasch in Lima, Ohio but then faded out due to inconsistent results & corrosion problems. It resurfaced when effective corrosion inhibitors became available in 1930.
True hydraulic fracturing began in 1947 in the Hugoton gas field in Kansas using surplus napalm to gel gasoline. Much safer water-based fracturing fluids were subsequently developed and are the most widely used today. These water-based fluids have very low toxicity and represent minimal risk despite all the adverse publicity from environmentalists and the MSM. George Mitchell is often cited in articles as the father of modern frac’ing but that’s not completely accurate. The technique of horizontal drilling along with multiple transverse hydraulic fracs was already being used in various places (eg Maersk’s Dan Field in the North Sea). Mitchell just had the foresight to apply that methodology to the Barnett Shale in the 1990s….and the rest, as they say, is history!!! Thanks to his efforts and his belief in the shale play, plus the work of many smart people in the oil & gas industry, we have access to vast amounts of hitherto inaccessible hydrocarbons. The US built LNG re-gas facilities to import LNG to avoid gas shortages – now, those same facilities are being used to EXPORT LNG! Isn’t technology amazing? Thank goodness!

The Dismal Science

Thanks for that history.
Funny how so many great inventions aren’t really new, what they do is combine several existing solutions together to create a solution to a difficult problem.
If I might add, Mitchell contributed several important tweaks to fracking. Also, horizontal drilling. But most important, and this gets lost in the shuffle, is vastly improved sensors and most especially, 3D seismic. Having precise control over where the well goes, how the frack occurs, and the relation of the well to the formation characteristics has been huge, and enormously increased the efficiency of the fracking, making it economic. And he was the guy who had the money, and chutzpah, to integrate all these systems together.
What is also interesting – very few places outside the U.S. have been able to make this system work so far. It really does take a village – or a very robust oil industry infrastructure, to do this.
I’ve been saying for years that fracking literally saved the world. Like GMOs, and vaccines, it is bitterly opposed by the greens, and yet has alleviated enormous human suffering at little cost.
Green activists are wrong so often, one wonders why anyone bothers to listen to them on any subject.

Phil Rae

The Dismal Science – No argument on most of this. Mitchell Energy’s success was the culmination of many years of development of the various technologies – directional/horizontal drilling, slick water fracturing, micro seismic monitoring to map frac propagation, downhole completion tools, etc. etc. Many companies were involved in this development work over decades and all the pieces were available at just the right moment. A mixture of technology, finance, good engineering, local knowledge….and a fair amount of luck, too!
The main reasons that the shale hydraulic fracturing revolution in the US is difficult to transfer to other places include the following:
1) Lack of equipment – the US lower 48 has relied on frac’ing to make even conventional land wells economically-viable for decades due to the low permeability of many of the producing strata. As a consequence, the US has huge amounts of high pressure pumping and ancillary equipment that most other countries (with a few exceptions eg Canada, Russia, Argentina) simply don’t have.
2) Environmental hysteria – the green blob has used all kinds of tactics to demonize frac’ing! Raising doubts about pollution, toxic chemicals, noise, water use, earthquakes, etc. etc. are some of the strategies employed. Most are completely bogus – there have been ~2.5 MILLION frac jobs done since 1947 without evidence of serious detrimental impacts on the environment. However, the scare tactics have led to widespread bans on frac’ing in potential & known hydrocarbon provinces (France, Bulgaria, Scotland to name a few).
3) Ownership of mineral rights -The US is exceptional for allowing individuals to own the mineral rights under their property. So, they can sell or lease those rights to others, allowing development of the potential oil/gas resources below. Elsewhere, by and large, governments own the subsurface and there is little incentive for property owners to have rigs and frac equipment appear on their property.
4) The US’s “can do” entrepreneurial spirit! Enough said….that makes a helluva difference!


Shutting down industry in CA, NY, and IL will also get us across the mark.


…and PA


Why would we want to meet the Paris Climate Target?

AGW is not Science

We wouldn’t – but I can’t help thinking it’d be fun to meet it purely by accident just so we can flip the bird to the Eco-Fascists in the EU. Tee-hee!


Because it makes Trump-haters look goofy. Though, of course, they’ll blame the emission reductions to economic recession or something.


If you replace coal with gas it has other benefits as the figure shows – like reducing actual pollution. And meeting the Paris goals could shut up the wackos, if they were able to look at numbers and acknowledge them.

Dave Irons

Carbon dioxide is beneficial. Why limit it?

J Mac

Just so!


From the article: “They found that emissions declined from 2.7 billion tons to an estimated 1.9 billion tons and revealed a strong link to natural gas prices as being a driving market force. The decrease puts U.S. emissions reduction at the CPP’s planned 2025 target this year.”
We don’t need no stinkin’ Paris Climate Agreement! We’ll do it another way. Our way puts us ahead of the game.
And Germany, the principal promoter and user of all this “renewable” energy nonsense can’t meet its CO2 reduction targets for this year.


This comment is total BS: “Modern day fracking didn’t begin until the 1990s. This originated when George P. Mitchell created a new technique, which took hydraulic fracturing, and combined it with horizontal drilling.”
By the 1970s, just about every well that was drilled onshore in the continental US was fracked or acid treated.
Pioneers like Earle P. Halliburton and partner Eddie Chiles (who later parted with Halliburton to form his own company) created the frack technology that eventually led to modern day fracking. Or their companies did. Once the concept of fracking was proven and found to work, money continued to be invested in the technology improving it all the time. With new companies created and going bankrupt all the time each adding something to the mix.
There was NEVER ANY question whatsoever that horizontal wells were going to be fracked! In fact, the idea that horizontal wells in tight formations WOULD NOT be fracked seems totally ludicrous and bizarre and would have prior to 1990 or even 1970.
The various technologies that led to inexpensive horizontal drilling are the key. And the technology that went into that came from many areas.
Many thousands of people had dreamed of drilling horizontally through the middle of formations to produce the oil there. Doing so in a conventional reservoir would allow fewer wells to produce the oil. Also, reduce coning and other problems. The idea of drilling through the middle of a reservoir too tight to produce oil conventionally was something that many thousands of the oil field professionals had also dreamed about. Basically, it was an obvious idea that if you have a horizontal through the center of a formation that is too tight to produce oil with vertical wells, then given there is more formation exposed with the horizontal, the hydrocarbons produced would be more. This idea can’t be attributed to one person or even as few as a 1000 people.
The tools, completion technology, drilling technologies, micro-seismic and etc., etc., that made modern horizontal drilling, fracking and completing of wells with long horizontals possible is NOT OWNED by one guy or invented by one guy or 100 guys. Once the technology was invented, it was used. As it became more common, the technology improved and the costs declined. This is something that is owned by an entire industry and many scientists and engineers who invented various parts of it.

The Dismal Science

Well, I certainly agree with that.
But I would argue that Mitchell was pretty consequential in promoting this, and seeing where it could lead. He risked a lot of his reputation and fortune on it. He integrated the terrific work of others into a complete package. He certainly should get some credit. But there is plenty of credit to go around, and like I say above, so far, no other country has been able to pull it off, which speaks volumes toward the American way of doing things.


“But I would argue that Mitchell was pretty consequential in promoting this,…”
I think he was an early adopter of technology which his engineers pitched to him.


I was part of team doing chemical cleanings at a plant back in the mid 1980’s. We needed temporary tanks, so the contractor rolled in frac (that’s how we spelled it) tanks. These had long been in use in the oil industry, the chemical cleaning contractor’s business was born as a sideline from the oil well service industry.

J Mac

Such rich irony here!
The Luddites decry technology, especially as applied to ‘fossil fuels’ and combustion thereof for low cost, reliable energy in the USA.
The AGW xxxtremists decry President Trump pulling the USA out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
And the US inadvertently ends up with the greatest reduction in CO2 emissions, using creative technology and ignoring AGW hyperbole. The only negative for the US is our lower CO2 emissions will detract slightly from the overall trend of increasing crop yields and greening of the planet, due to our releasing less CO2 back into the atmosphere. 400 ppm atmospheric CO2 is well below ideal concentration for optimal plant growth world wide. More atmospheric CO2 feeds a ‘greening’ planet…. and everyone on it.


Don’t worry, the oil and coal will get burn eventually.

Alan Tomalty

yah the CO2 levels should be about 4000 ppm for optimal plant growth which is 10 times what the level is now. At the dismal rate of CO2 production it will take us 460 years to get there. We gotta start burning more fossil fuels. Where is that clean coal technology that we were promised?

Rebel with a cause

The Paris Climate Agreement was never about CO2 emissions but about wealth redistribution. So the US may meet its CO2 goals while saving billions. Are you tired of winning yet.

John S

We may not need Obama’s plans, but we’re going to get them anyway.
Judge orders Trump administration to put energy efficiency standards into effect


Why the judiciary should have never been given the ability to overrule legislators.

Tom Halla

While I disagree with the case in question, Marbury v. Madison is mostly a statement that the legislature and executive have to follow the Constitution. Most of the blatant failures of the courts have been in not following the Constitution, as in the Slaughterhouse Cases making the 14th Amendment impotent.

Roger Knights

pochas94 February 16, 2018 at 10:16 am
Why would we want to meet the Paris Climate Target?
AGW is not Science February 16, 2018 at 11:00 am
We wouldn’t – but I can’t help thinking it’d be fun to meet it purely by accident just so we can flip the bird to the Eco-Fascists in the EU. Tee-hee!

We could do even better if the government encouraged households in the suburbs and cities to switch from oil to gas for heating, and encouraged large- and medium-size truckers to switch from diesel to natural gas (by supporting the construction of a network of compressed and/or liquified natural gas filling stations). Instead, when Obama came in, his appointees DIScouraged the first, because it would be a diversion from a switch to all-electric heating, and ignored the second, because they wanted to convert to bio-diesel. They wanted the whole loaf, IOW. The result is that they got no bread. “The best is the enemy of the good.”


Any time the government encourages anything, I get nervous.

Joel Snider

As if it mattered anyway.

michael hart

“..a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.”

That sent a shudder down my spine. I hope nobody from that department gets to build any dams or bridges that the public has to use.

Henning Nielsen

This is the very scary part: “…that the path to compliance can be a collection of politically feasible, minimally invasive actions.”
“minimally invasive”; Scary for the leftist activists who want a new world order.


I’ve often mentioned how ironic it is that the US leads in CO2 reduction yet is the whipping boy for CC. As mentioned previously….. that’s not the intent of the UN though so don’t count on them to advertise it. The Marxist/Socialist force is strong with this one. Read Agenda 21 (if you can wade through it) and you’ll understand their true intent is no private property and everyone with the same income and living standards …. no matter how poor they may be. CC is the means, not the end.

Gary Pearse

Yeah take the trend created by free enterprise and ensure that government interference can keep it that way! Max Planck famously said science advances one funeral at a time. I can see that it’s also true about the economy. A dying off of the current university mindset will improve things. Maybe intervention is most acceptable for speeding this up by choking off funds – we need funds in more important areas to advance Trumps infrastructure plans. Entirely new universities with higher standards to limit enrollment will be necessary. Harvard and other broken institutions aren’t good candidates for rehab. Leave them to drift where they like.

Like I said.
Climate science shows us that there is cause for concern. Not alarm, but concern.
Is it getting warmer? Yup there was an LIA. Do GHGs play some role? Yup
the best science, even from over a hundred years ago says so.
How much will it warm in the future? Depends. Depends on GHGs we emit
and Climate sensitivity. do we know exactly how much?
Nope. But our best science says somewhere between 1.5C and 4.5C per doubling.
That range is from slight concern to severe concern.
What do I think about people who are certain the concern is slight?
They need to be better skeptics.
What do I think about the people who are certain the concern is severe?
They need to be better skeptics.
We can best address these concerns by taking some no regrets actions:
1. Frack baby frack. NG over the long term is better than coal:
a) reduces the risk of AGW
b) reduces the risks of PM2.5
2. Nukes are green. More please.
3. Black Carbon: low hanging fruit, reduce and eliminate.
4. More Observations please.
There is zero need to attack the science or scientists
And look I didnt have to Deny or Doubt any climate science. I didnt have to accuse people of fraud.
I didnt have to question their politics or their funding. None of that.
I didnt have to argue that pressure and not GHGs determine (with the sun) the temperature of the planet.
I didnt have to buy all the alarmist rhetoric (” our planet will be Rekt”, or “our economy will be Rekt”).
zero crankery or kookery. No refusals to accept what we know (with uncertainty) and no need to drop
legitimate questions about how to reduce the uncertainty.
Long ago people asked me what this position was.

Bryan A

Don’t forget about the AGW proponents throwing around potentially derogatory labels like the Major AGW Preacher Al Gore. When confronted by any inconvenient question or observation “Are you a denier? You ARE a denier aren’t you!”
And a bullet 5 Study and inform of the Benefits of increased levels of CO2 in the biosphere and the potential benefits of further increases.
Something that has yet to be either published or brought to light in the Science Publications

The Dismal Science

Well, I would agree – probably not good to do a experiment on the Earth’s atmosphere, despite the hue and cry, even if the risks are fairly low. And i would add, I certainty believe we should release less mercury and sulfur from coal into the air.
At the same time we overvalue one set of risks (climate change) we grossly undervalue other risks. Like, for example having 10 billion people that want to have our lifestyle. For may people it is either burn coal, or starve. Naturally a 1% risk to me vastly outweighs a 100% to someone I don’t even know, especially in a foreign country. Greens are very selfish.
We don’t change this equation by destroying our economy. Nor by trying to force poor people to stay poor forever. Yet those seem to be the only two solutions ever considered by the greens, with their silly no nukes/no fracking stance. we need more energy, a lot more, and batteries, solar, wind, mathematically are just not going to cut it. So, as is so often the case, green activists are actively planning to our demise (just like they did over GMOs and vaccines), and yet we still bother to care what they think.

Bryan A

Another thing conveniently “overlooked” by the Green Goons is their own mantra “Sustainability”.
They claim “There is only so much available resources in the world and we need to use it in a sustainable manner”. This fact is used as 1/2 of their main argument regarding Coal and Oil extraction as energy sources. They claim that Sustainable equates with Renewable and renewable energy is the Only option. Further, Electric Vehicles need to be the future of all domestic and global travel.
Well guess what, electric cars, trucks, boats, planes, motorcycles, etc. all require batteries that can be charged and recharged and easily replaced.
According to an article published in Green Car Reports there are currently 1.2 Billion vehicles on the road globally, … just vehicles on the road, not planes or ships that would also need batteries and replacement batteries. According to the article, this number is projected to grow to over 2 billion by 2035.
The USA has an average of 795 cars per 1000 people.
If the world attained the U.S. standard of living there would need to be almost 6 billion Electric vehicles on the road. The materials needed to make the required batteries and eventual replacement batteries for these vehicles could certainly not be gathered in any sustainable manner.
Oil is a finite resource
Natural Gas is a finite resource
They are not renewable resources
Nickel is a finite resource
Cadmium is a finite resource
Neodymium is a finite resource
Praseodymium is a finite resource
Dysprosium is a finite resource
All necessary for EV creation and maintenance, many considered Rare Earth Elements, and none are renewable with few mined in any “sustainable” fashion.

The Dismal Science

Indeed – you are quite correct.
Their solutions don’t work. Not just don’t work, can’t work. Mathematically, physically, economically, technologically. Because of these things, if we follow their proscriptions, we will get a lot of people killed.
To reduce emissions we need cheap, reliable power. A LOT of it. Our two option for that are natural gas and nuclear power. Transitioning from coal to natural gas offers a 60% cut in emissions. Transitioning to nuclear cuts that to zero. There are designed of nuclear power plants that solve a majority of the potential problems, from the small change of a meltdown, waste, and nuclear proliferation.
Wind and solar can supply 10-15% of the total..,Hydro another 20%. So we will only need nuclear and gas for the remaining 60%.
This is a workable, economically supportable, intelligent solution.

“Climate science shows us that there is cause for concern.”
Huh? I have been reading about climate science for a dozen years and every “concern” turnout out to be nothing. OTOH, the benefits to the environment of our added CO2 are immense. I get the warm fuzzies from the greening of the South Sahara.
If you have specific information to contradict what I have said, please post it.


Looks like Mosher has sobered up. He’s actually trying to make sense for once.


Climate science shows us there is need for concern?
Why are you panicking over a potential temperature increase of just a few tenths of a degree?


What experiment on the atmosphere?
We know that CO2 levels were as much as 5000 to 7000 ppm and life flourished.
Increasing from 280 to 500-600 is a nothing burger.

David Cage

As a Brit I find it hilarious that Trump who is pilloried for saying up yours to the climate agreement is the leader of the country nearest to meeting the commitments.