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Natural Gas Is The Cleanest Fossil Fuel

The use of natural gas in power generation provides a cleaner alternative to coal and other fossil fuels, reducing carbon and other emissions and resulting in both immediate and long-term benefits for public health and the environment.

In 2012, the U.S. power sector’s CO2 emissions were the lowest that they have been since 1995, and 16% below emissions in 2005. [IHS CERA]

Overall, the use of natural gas results in a significantly more limited environmental impact than other fossil fuels:

  • When burned, natural gas releases up to 50% less CO2 than coal and 20-30% less than oil;
  • When used in power generation, natural gas emits as much as 50% less CO2 than coal, results in negligible emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury (Hg), and particulates compared with other fuels.
  • On-going technology developments aimed at enabling the capture and storage of CO2 (CCS) further reduce emissions coming from natural gas-powered generators;
  • The increased use of natural gas offers a significant contribution to improved local air quality and public health;
Natural Gas produces 50% less CO2 than other fossil fuels.

[Source: IGU, NOAA, IHS CERA]

There is more to being a clean fuel than just emissions. The reality is that natural gas also presents a cleaner alternative to other non-emitting fuel sources, such as nuclear. While the incidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl are the very rare worst case scenarios, the risks involving the processing of nuclear waste and security should also be considered. Just because a fuel is low in CO2, SO2 / SOX / NO2 / NOX emissions doesn’t mean it’s actually clean.