SOURCE: Huffington Post
DATE: January 16, 2019
SNIP: Amid mounting calls to phase out fossil fuels in the face of rapidly worsening climate change, the United States is ramping up oil and gas drilling faster than any other country, threatening to add 1,000 coal plants’ worth of planet-warming gases by the middle of the century, according to a report released Wednesday.
By 2030, the U.S. is on track to produce 60 percent of the world’s new oil and gas supply, an expansion at least four times larger than in any other country. By 2050, the country’s newly tapped reserves are projected to spew 120 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
That would make it nearly impossible to keep global warming within the 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial averages, beyond which United Nations scientists forecast climate change to be catastrophic, with upward of $54 trillion in damages.
The report casts a new light on the impact of the U.S. fracking boom and calls into question the Trump administration’s stance that China, which surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2007, remains the biggest impediment to halting warming.
“The United States is moving further and faster to expand oil and gas extraction than any other country,” said Kelly Trout, the report’s lead author and a senior research analyst at Oil Change International. “We need to be transitioning off oil and gas, and the United States dumping huge amounts of dirty oil on the world market is incompatible with effectively and equitably addressing climate change.”
Nearly 90 percent of new U.S. oil and gas drilling through 2050 is expected to depend on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial technique that blasts bedrock with chemical- and sand-laced water, creating cracks that release previously inaccessible fuels. Upward of 60 percent of the emissions enabled by new U.S. drilling would come from two major fracking hot spots ― the Permian Basin, a massive field stretching from Texas to New Mexico; and the Appalachian Basin, encompassing most of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Continued extraction in the Permian Basin alone would use up 10 percent of the emissions that remain in the entire world’s carbon budget to keep warming within 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.