Natural Gas – Better than Coal, still not great

Natural Gas is enjoying a huge renaissance right now, with production sky-high, and prices low.  Everyone seems to be advocating for more implementation of natural gas electricity production, heating costs are down, and some are advocating for development of cars that run on compressed natural gas (I spent some time in Argentina, where many cars run on CNG, and it is cheap!)

President Obama even included natural gas as a major component of his energy/climate change speech.

It’s true that natural gas is much cleaner than coal, and gathering the resource is less damaging to the environment (no mining, but shale gas? not so good).  We must remember, however, that its use still pollutes.

And it can catch on fire and explode.  As this disaster reminds us:

Hercules 265 Rig, Gulf of Mexico

Hercules 265 Rig, Gulf of Mexico

Gulf rig partially collapses as fire rages

Natural gas disasters happen all the time, check out NaturalGasWatch.org for a comprehensive week-by-week list of explosions.

We like natural gas for the energy that it gives us, but remember that it is dangerous and does pollute.  You know what abundant energy source doesn’t catch fire and explode? The wind (at least that I know of, that would be terrifying).  And for that matter, when was the last time the sun caught on fire?  Well, erm…I guess always, but we like it that way.

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3 thoughts on “Natural Gas – Better than Coal, still not great

  1. Yes, natural gas is not a great replacement to coal. Thermo-electric processes such as coal and natural gas vent considerable water vapor, a major GHG, into the atmosphere in operation. Nuclear power production consumes the greatest amount of water. It seems that carbon trading schemes have overlooked controlling water vapor emissions. If one considers water consumption in the power production equation, then one must also reconsider definitions of “Clean” and “Green” energy.

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