• 4 minutes Europeans and Americans are beginning to see the results of depending on renewables.
  • 7 minutes Is China Rising or Falling? Has it Enraged the World and Lost its Way? How is their Economy Doing?
  • 13 minutes NordStream2
  • 12 hours Monday 9/13 - "High Natural Gas Prices Today Will Send U.S. Production Soaring Next Year" by Irina Slav
  • 10 hours California to ban gasoline for lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers, off road equipment, etc.
  • 12 hours "Here is The Hidden $150 Trillion Agenda Behind The "Crusade" Against Climate Change" - Zero Hedge re: Bank of America REPORT
  • 3 hours GREEN NEW DEAL = BLIZZARD OF LIES
  • 3 days "A Very Predictable Global Energy Crisis" by Irina Slav --- MUST READ
  • 1 day U.S. : Employers Can Buy Retirement Security for $2.64 an Hour
  • 1 day Nord Stream - US/German consultations
  • 3 days An Indian Opinion on What is Going on in China
  • 4 days Can Technology Keep Coal Plants Alive and Well?
  • 5 days Succession Planning in Human Resources for Vaccinated Individuals in the Oil & Gas Industry
  • 15 hours Forecasts for Natural Gas
  • 1 day Australia sues Neoen for lack of power from its Tesla battery
  • 3 days Storage of gas cylinders
  • 5 days Two Good and Plausible Ideas about Saving Water and Redirecting it to Where it is Needed.
Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is an independent journalist, covering oil and gas, energy and environmental policy, and international politics. He is based in Portland, Oregon. 

More Info

Premium Content

The Latest Texas Oil Boom Has Sent Emissions Soaring

The ongoing growth of fracking in the U.S., plus the related buildout of pipelines, refineries and petrochemical plants, will release the equivalent of 50 new coal-fired power plants over the next five years.

An estimated 157 new or expanded plants are slated to come online in that timeframe, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). Those plants are expected to release 227 million tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, a 30 percent increase from the industry’s 2018 emissions total.

“The US is already struggling to meet climate commitments and transition to a low-carbon future,” said Courtney Bernhardt, Research Director at the Environmental Integrity Project. “This analysis shows that we’re heading in the wrong direction and really need to slow emissions growth from the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries.”

Roughly 36 million tons of the 227-million-ton total will come from expanded drilling. But that means that more than 80 percent of the additional emissions comes from all the associated midstream and downstream facilities.

About half of the 157 new facilities are to be built in Texas and Louisiana. This isn’t just a matter of greenhouse gas emissions, but also of harmful pollutants that affect public health. For instance, the planned facilities will emit 119,000 tons of volatile organic compounds each year, which will exacerbate smog, as well as 11,100 tons of fine particles that contribute to asthma and heart attacks. Related: The Hottest Permian Takeover Targets For 2020

One of the largest sources of new emissions could come from the massive $9.4-billion Formosa chemical and plastics plant to be built in Louisiana, a plant that will dramatically increase the amount of toxic chemicals released in the region’s “Cancer Alley.” That plant has faced stiffed resistance, but recently received crucial state permits, inching the project forward.

The tidal wave of investment in petrochemical plants to produce plastics is the next chapter of the fracking boom. Enormous supplies of natural gas and natural gas liquids, which have crashed prices, are set to be transformed into plastics. Shell’s gargantuan ethane cracker in Western Pennsylvania is one example, but the Gulf Coast is home to many more planned ethane crackers and related petrochemical sites, taking advantage of the huge volumes of oil and gas flowing from the Permian and Eagle Ford. Related: Turkey’s Energy Agenda Puts The Entire Region At Risk

Globally, the oil and gas industry is expected to invest $1.4 trillion in new projects around the world over the next five years, although the bulk of that will flow into U.S. shale. “U.S. oil and gas expansion by itself will make it virtually impossible for the rest of the world to manage the safe, equitable and necessary phase-out of oil and gas production by 2050,” a December 2019 report published by a broad coalition of environmental groups said.

In a separate report that looked at all emissions, the Rhodium Group estimates that total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.1 percent in 2019, largely the result of the 18 percent decline in coal-fired generation. The increase in gas-fired generation offset some of that improvement, but power sector emissions overall declined by 10 percent. Transportation emissions were flat, but emissions from industry and buildings rose.

Still, U.S. emissions grew prior to 2019, so there has been no net reduction in the past three years, leaving the U.S. behind on its relatively modest climate targets. As part of the Copenhagen commitment, the U.S. pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The year has arrived and the U.S. has only cut by 12.3 percent. Achieving the Copenhagen goal by the end of this year will require another 5.3 percent reduction in emissions, “a bigger annual drop than the US has experienced during the post-war period, with the exception of 2009 due to the Great Recession,” the Rhodium Group concluded.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage





Leave a comment
  • Lee James on January 08 2020 said:
    Nick, I thought the previous article you posted about U.S. emissions was interesting, showing the demise of coal and a similar increased rate of usage in natural gas and renewable energy.

    Now, it appears the downstream addition of petrochemical plants is the rest of the story for what we need to do to meet emission-reduction goals . . . .

Leave a comment




EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News