Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas
from Union of Concerned Scientists
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, though the global warming emissions from its combustion are much lower than those from coal or oil.
Natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) when combusted in a new, efficient natural gas power plant compared with emissions from a typical new coal plant. Considering only tailpipe emissions, natural gas also emits 15 to 20 percent less heat-trapping gases than gasoline when burned in today’s typical vehicle.
Emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes, however, do not tell the full story.
The drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines results in the leakage of methane, primary component of natural gas that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years.
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