Shale Gas Better Climate Solution Than Carbon Tax

Published August 21, 2013

In a recent commentary (“The importance of Maryland’s leadership on climate change,” Aug. 18), former presidential adviser Carol M. Browner praised Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposals to reduce carbon pollution. But she curiously left no mention of shale development, the only proven carbon reducing strategy that doesn’t increase the size and power of government.

The United States already leads the world in reducing carbon emissions, primarily due to our switch from burning coal to natural gas for electricity generation, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. So not only is developing natural gas from shale the only carbon reducing strategy that doesn’t increase the size of government, but it’s also by far the most effective strategy.

According to a widely accepted formula developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, even if the entire U.S. reduced its carbon emissions by 10 percent, that would only bring a 0.11-degree Fahrenheit reduction of global warming per century — far less than the background effect of natural variability. Before Maryland thinks about imposing costly carbon-restricting regulations on the state’s economy, perhaps it should not be asking how much carbon can these programs possibly reduce, but rather how much temperature increase can they realistically save?

[First published in the Baltimore Sun.]