Is natural gas really worse than coal ?

This week the New York Times ran another great article on energy, this time on why natural gas may be worse than coal, regarding climate change. Until now, this energy source was said to be emitting half less than coal.

The implications of such a fact could be huge as the world wouldn’t be able to count on natural gas to be a bridging energy source. Indeed, even environmentalists were until recently advocating natural gas…

But is it really the case about natural gas in general or just specific types ? It turns that, like for oil, unconventional gas is more polluting that the traditional one.

Indeed, shale gas is just like shale oil, dirtier. Fracking is thus a bad idea when it turns to clean energy.

Here is a short extract from the NYT article :

Even as natural gas production in the United States increases and Washington gives it a warm embrace as a crucial component of America’s energy future, two coming studies try to poke holes in the clean-and-green reputation of natural gas.

They suggest that the rush to develop the nation’s vast, unconventional sources of natural gas is logistically impractical and likely to do more to heat up the planet than mining and burning coal.

The problem, the studies suggest, is that planet-warming methane, the chief component of natural gas, is escaping into the atmosphere in far larger quantities than previously thought, with as much as 7.9 percent of it puffing out from shale gas wells, intentionally vented or flared, or seeping from loose pipe fittings along gas distribution lines.

This offsets natural gas’s most important advantage as an energy source: it burns cleaner than other fossil fuels and releases lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Meanwhile my home country, France, extended its ban on shale oil and gas exploration, and this despite the huge amounts of energy it could generate…

For more : check out the NYT green blog.

2 thoughts on “Is natural gas really worse than coal ?”

  1. it looks like education is the number one priority again, thanks for exposing all sides of the energy issue..
    natural gas does burn cleaner, but i did turn down an offer from the city to hook us up to the town pipes this week.

    fracking is causing catastrophic damage to water, soil and air in the northern and Canadian shale country..our choices are not healthful.

    back to speeding up the new technologies..are there no engineers with energy efficiency in mind? or no backers with funds in portfolio?

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