A CommonDreams.org piece published November 4th and titled
Unnatural Gas: The Inflated Promise of a Not-So-Clean Fuel
Meanwhile, in competing with Big Coal for the affections of Congress, the newly formed America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) launched an $80 million advertising and lobbying campaign earlier this year to promote its “clean, abundant, American, reliable, and versatile” product. As climate bills work their way through Congress, ANGA’s efforts appear to be paying off.
Risking our water so we can burn more natural gas will not be the planet’s miracle climate cure. For the United States to achieve necessary reductions in greenhouse emissions – estimated at more than 80 percent – will require not more energy production, even if somewhat cleaner, but deep cuts in energy consumption.
Coal must be phased out as quickly as possible, but more gas won’t accomplish that. While electric utilities’ gas consumption doubled from 1996 to 2007, coal use continued its steady climb.
What if, with shale drilling, we could achieve another doubling of gas-fired electricity generation, but this time eliminate an equivalent amount of coal-fired generation? Even that steep escalation of gas drilling would cut the utility industry’s carbon emissions by only 12 percent and the nation’s total carbon emissions by just 5 percent, based on Energy Department figures.
Financier T. Boone Pickens recommends running our vehicles on natural gas. But substituting natural gas for gasoline in all vehicles would reduce the nation’s total carbon emissions by less than 9 percent. Converting all gasoline-powered vehicles would consume more natural gas than electric utilities, homes and businesses combined. Consequences for the nation’s water would be disastrous.
Natural gas is being hailed by some, including Pickens, as a high-energy “bridge” to a renewable future, and by others as sufficiently climate-friendly to be a “destination” fuel. But as gas’ environmental drawbacks become more evident, it’s looking more like a bridge to nowhere.
Read the entire piece at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/11/04-5