U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell significantly from 2005 to 2017, even while oil and natural gas production skyrocketed, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft 2019 greenhouse gas inventory (GHGI).

The draft GHGI data show total U.S. CO2 decreased nearly 14 percent, while methane emissions were reduced by more than 4 percent since 2005. Meanwhile, U.S. oil and natural gas production increased more than 80 percent and 51 percent, respectively, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Source: Table ES-2, EPA draft “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks,” February 2019; Data: million metric ton CO2 equivalent

Electric Power Sector CO2 Emissions

The GHGI data also show that electric power sector CO2 emissions continue to decline – a trend that has been widely attributed to the increased use of natural gas in electricity generation. In fact, a 2018 EIA report found that growth in natural gas consumption can be credited for 61 percent of the total 3.86 billion metric tons of electric generation CO2 reductions since 2005.

Electric power sector CO2 emissions have been reduced 4.8 percent since 1990, 27.8 percent since 2005 and 4.3 percent since 2016, according to the GHGI.

Petroleum & Natural Gas System Methane Emissions

Not surprisingly, environmental groups have already begun to tout a slight increase in combined petroleum and natural gas system methane emissions that occurred from 2016 to 2017 as unacceptable, without offering any perspective to their comments.

Methane emissions from these sources increased 0.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to GHGI data, but that slight increase does not offset the nearly 14 percent reduction since 1990 and more than 2 percent decline since 2005. Further, oil and natural gas production outpaced the slight increase in methane emissions, growing 5.6 and 2.6 percent, respectively, in 2017.


Reducing emissions is a top priority for America’s oil and natural gas industry. This fact that is made more clear with each new set of data showing decreasing long-term emissions trends. Further, the abundance of U.S. natural gas has helped drive down power sector emissions to record-lows. As United Nations Energy Programme chief Erik Solheim said in 2017,

“In all likelihood, the United States of America will live up to its Paris commitment, not because of the White House, but because of the private sector.”

EPA is scheduled to release the finalized 2019 GHGI in April.