Natural Gas Pros and Cons

From sea to shining sea, natural gas has made the news more than Britney Spears and Justin Beiber combined. Seriously, I did the Google Fight. With all this press and all the signs calling for its ban on every corner in my neighborhood, I had to do my research. Yes, I know I said I would keep away from writing about subjects that have the potential to put me in the hot seat, but I have to do what I have to do.

The natural gas industry has made a lot of claims about the substance. They say that it’s the answer to all of our energy needs and that it’s the new clean answer to coal and petroleum. Like Duffman, the Natural Gas industry says a lot of things, I think it;s a good time for us to sit back and look at the truth about natural gas from both sides.

Pros

  • Natural Gas produces 21% of the worlds power
  • Natural Gas is now the number one power source in America beating coal for the first time in July 2012
  • Natural Gas produces little soot, verifying the clean-burning claim
  • Emits 45% less CO2 than coal and 35% less CO2 than oil
  • There is an abundant supply. The DOE estimate roughly 1.2 trillion barrels in American soil
  • Can be used in manufacturing of plastics ,fertilizers ,and other chemicals
  • Can be used for transportation
  • No waste
  • Employs 1.2 million people around the world
  • Far better for cooking than electric

     

Cons

  • A non-renewable resource. Though there is a lot, it’s not sustainable in the long run
  • Though it emits less CO2 than coal or petroleum, still emits millions of tons per year
  • 85-95% methane, which is among the most potent of greenhouse gasses
  • Requires extensive pipelines to deliver
  • The biggest dangers are in the extraction process

    - Water pollution due to chemical runoff from fracking sites. In 2011, tests of water supplies, such as one in particular in Wyoming, show that drinking water has been tainted by fracturing chemicals, leaving the water unfit for consumption

    - Companies are not required to show which chemicals are used in fracking

    - Water can also be mixed with other ground toxins, such as arsenic do to the fracturing of shale

    - GHG footprint in shale is greater than that of coal

    - Fracking has been linked to earthquakes caused by the weakening of supporting shale

    - Gas ends up in drinking water leading to highly flammable water

    - Fracking uses huge amounts of water, which are already in short supply

    - Runoff destroys millions of acres of farmland rendering it useless, depleting our food supply and taking farmers out of business

 

Well, there are certainly are good arguments on both sides of the coin. For the most part, natural gas would be a very viable resource if it wasn’t for the extraction process. Unfortunately, there is far too much risk. Though there are some strong and valid arguments on the side for natural gas, I do not believe that there is enough value to anything to destroy the Earth to get it. I’ll just wait for the sun.

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