Letter: Natural Gas Isn’t Clean
To the Editor:
Your Dec. 1 article about the proposed natural gas distribution facility in Lebanon attempted to show both sides of the argument, but I believe it dismally failed to back up and take a look at the big picture. It did not discuss the environmental impacts of natural gas, the environmental implications of building more fossil fuel infrastructure or why natural gas is so cheap right now.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported recently that methane is some 34 times stronger a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide over a 100-year scale — and 86 times more potent over 20 years. If, as now seems likely, natural gas production systems leak 2.7 percent (or more), then gas-fired power loses its advantage over coal. Back in August, a study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measured a stunning 6 percent to 12 percent methane leakage over one of the country’s largest gas fields — which would gut the climate benefits of switching from coal to gas. Natural gas is not cleaner. Less soot is produced than coal when it’s burned, but it is not cleaner.
Secondly, natural gas prices are so cheap right now because of the over-extension of and the lack of government regulation on horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Better known as fracking, it is an exploitative process that explodes the shale bed locked in the rock layers of the Earth using fresh water and a cornucopia of undisclosed chemicals and has exemptions from the clean air, clean water and clean drinking water acts. And the second we start exporting this excess of dirty natural gas overseas, the price is going to jump.
Finally, if we’re trying to lessen emissions and fight climate change, we should be investing in renewable energy, not paying for new fossil fuel infrastructure that will only lock us into more fossil fuels for many decades just to temporarily save some money on heating. The article quoted someone as saying that natural gas is a “bridge-fuel.” But if it’s not leading us toward anything, then it’s really looking more like a gangplank than a bridge.