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The world’s climate goals come with a clear consequence for coal: It has to be completely phased out by 2040 to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
But while some leaders see natural gas as a bridge between coal and renewable energy, a new study shows it may be just as bad for the climate as the fossil fuel it’s trying to replace.
While the name “natural gas” implies it’s a cleaner, healthier energy source than coal or oil, it’s still a fossil fuel, and it’s largely made up of methane — a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon that’s emitted from coal. And as that methane is extracted from the ground and piped to power plants for making electricity or homes for heating, it’s prone to leaking.
A new peer-reviewed study published last week shows gas production basins around the country see anywhere from .65% to 66.2% of their fuel leak during the production process. With such a big range, a leak rate of less than a percent may not seem like a problem. But as the study found, the U.S. gas system can have as big of an emissions impact as coal even if its leakage rate is as low as .2%.
The study adds to evidence gathered via satellites tracking equipment that shows the natural gas system is responsible for a huge amount of methane emissions — and raises doubts that it’s the readily available, climate-friendly fuel we should be relying on.
More clean energy news
🤫 Keeping quiet on climate: Some companies are quietly removing climate commitments from their websites to avoid dealing with Republican lawmakers angry about environmental goals or environmentalists who think they don’t go far enough. (Washington Post)
🌊 Hydropower’s wishy-washy record: Despite being touted as clean energy, hydropower reservoirs are responsible for millions of tons of methane and carbon emissions each year, a study finds. (Inside Climate News)
🤝 Clean energy across the aisle: A planned solar factory in U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Georgia district exemplifies how President Biden is securing support for his clean energy accomplishments even in deep-red congressional districts. (Politico)
⚠️ Insuring climate destruction: Insurance industry watchdogs say firms’ heightened prices in climate-vulnerable states amount to exploitation, especially considering their roles in propping up the fossil fuel industry. (Lever)
🌐 Grid upgrades are worth it: While it may cost billions and even trillions of dollars to upgrade the United States’ outdated power grid, the cost of not making those improvements would likely be far higher in terms of economic damage and human health, experts say. (Axios)
⚡ Rewiring expectations: A concept to rewire existing transmission line towers with higher capacity cables gains traction in the Biden administration, as studies show it could help move more clean electricity while bypassing years of permitting and construction. (E&E News)
💸 Running out of relief: A spike in the frequency of events means the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund is set to run out before the peak of U.S. hurricane and wildfire seasons, the agency’s administrator says. (Axios)
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