But how clean is natural gas, really?
The Wilderness Society just released the new science and policy brief Doing it Right: Ensuring Responsible Natural Gas Development on Our Public Lands to address the question: How clean is natural gas?
Unfortunately, as the brief reveals, natural gas is not the panacea that its promoters would have us believe. Consider these facts:
Natural gas is only 30 to 50 percent cleaner burning than coal.
Natural gas is still a fossil fuel and our current use of it contributes about 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
The processing, infrastructure, and burning of natural gas releases methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its heat-trapping ability.
Methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States, according to a September 2009 study by the Congressional Research Service.
Smog, or ground level ozone, has risen tremendously in areas with high levels of natural gas development. For example, in Sublette County, Wyo., after more than 3,100 gas wells were drilled in the past 10 years, ground-level ozone levels increased from background levels to those exceeding the Los Angeles basin in the winter of 2008.
The Wilderness Society is the leading American conservation organization working to protect our nation’s public lands -- the 635 million acres collectively owned by the American people and managed by our government.