The Vile and Evil American Shale Gas Revolution

John Hanger thinks it is an “American triumph” and the “top energy fact of 2012” that America has reduced CO2 emissions in the short term somewhat by switching much electricity generation from coal to gas.

I agree that this is a significant fact. But I don’t think it’s a triumph. It is a disgrace. The Americans should be ashamed of themselves.

For one, I am opposed to any exploration of unconventional fossil fuel resources. Most of the fossil fuel needs to stay in the ground anyway. Therefore I support a policy of declaring shale gas off limits (see “Germany Cautious With Fracking“). One has to start somewhere, and this seems to be a good place to start.

The reason for gas displacing coal in America is obviously the fact that gas prices have dropped in America, as a consequence of aggressively going for unconventional gas resources.

That is not a triumph, it es very bad news. Cheaper fossil fuel of any flavor is the last thing we need. Fortunately, this is only a temporary disease. There is no way these low gas prices will be sustained over the long run. If you don’t believe me on that, maybe Michael Liebreich can convince you. He has made that point repeatedly.

And the coal not burned in America as a consequence of low gas prices is shipped to Europe, where it is burned anyway to generate electricity. Coal exports from America to Europe have increased strongly, as a consequence of lower coal prices

As a consequence of shale gas lowering fossil fuel prices in the United States, coal gets cheaper and burned more also in Europe. That is not a “triumph”, that is sabotaging Europe’s efforts to do something about the climate.

The American shale gas revolution keeps prices of fossil fuel down not only in America, but it increases fossil fuel consumption on the whole planet.

Of course, Dieter Helm, being wrong about everything related to energy, thinks that cheap gas is a good thing and applauds the Americans (last in this series of slides published a couple of days ago).

The Americans need to apologize to the World for their failed policy of allowing unconventional gas exploration and the associated drop in fossil fuel cost. They are making global warming worse with this vile and evil policy.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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