Keep It In The Ground movement continues to deny science

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Some “really remarkable” news broke on the clime front this week, just as world leaders wrap up their meetings at the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference.

A study by the Global Carbon Project found global carbon emissions did not grow at all for a third year in a row in 2015. And what’s responsible for this “stunningly good news for the planet,” as the Washington Post described it? It’s due in large part to the United States’ increased use of natural gas, brought about by fracking.

The report finds U.S. CO2 emissions declined 2.6 percent from 2014 to 2015, even as Americans used more oil and gas last year. The report also projects U.S. emissions will decline another 1.7 percent in 2016. This data are part of a decades-long trend in which we’ve seen our emissions drop a whopping 11.5 percent from 2005 levels, giving us the distinction of being the only country in the world to see dramatic CO2 reductions during that time span.

What’s even more remarkable is that we’ve achieved this feat without ratifying the Kyoto Protocol or adopting cap-and-trade legislation. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) put it well when he explained, “We’ve been improving our emissions in this county without agreeing to the Kyoto accords, without Congressional action because of innovation from the natural gas area.” And, as the new report explains, we’ve done this while growing our economy at the same time.

The new report bolsters the statements of a wide range of energy and environmental experts — including President Obama, and officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and International Energy Agency (IEA) — who have said natural gas use significantly lowers CO2 emissions. The Breakthrough Institute, an environmental think tank, has noted that CO2 reductions attributable to natural gas far have far outpaced reductions attributable to renewable energy.

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said, “the rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply… is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”

Keep It In The Ground activists have been using the Marrakesh conference as a rallying cry after the election for their efforts to end all fossil fuel development across the county. But what has been lost in all these conversations is that, thanks to fracking, our emissions will continue to fall as we continue to ramp up our use of natural gas — regardless of the political landscape.

And there’s plenty of natural gas at hand. EIA projects we currently have 84-year supply of natural gas. This has not only allowed the U.S. to become net exporter of the fuel, but has enabled our trade partners to enjoy similar climate progress going forward at the same time we reduce our trade deficit.

So why are groups like the Sierra Club, which recently launched a $5 million campaign to block fracking, continuing to oppose the very fuel that is actually reducing emissions?

The inconvenient truth is that those involved in the “Keep It The Ground” movement are the real science deniers.

While they insist the IPCC is “gold standard” for climate science, they refuse to acknowledge what these scientists have determined about natural gas’ climate benefits.  For these groups, the facts and the science take a back seat to their overall ideology of eliminating all fossil fuels — an ideology that Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta has called “completely impractical.”

So as the Marrakesh climate talks come to a close, it’s important to acknowledge just how much progress has and will continue to be made, thanks to fracking and natural gas.

Seth Whitehead is a spokesman for Energy In Depth, an education and research program sponsored by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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