America’s natural gas revolution is firing on all cylinders, creating jobs, lowering energy bills, making the US energy independent, and decreasing CO2 emissions. This is a win-win-win for everybody, but don’t tell that to the disciples of former Vice President Al Gore. According to the Book of Greta Thunberg, the only acceptable forms of energy are wind, solar, and running in circles – anything else is heresy to global warming orthodoxy. If you are found heating your home or cooking on your stove using traditional energy sources, then you will be sentenced to watch CNN and NBC’s climate change town halls on repeat on a melting icecap for eternity until you repent for your sins by shouting excerpts from the IPCC report outside supermarkets wearing nothing but a brown paper bag.
The War on Natural Gas
San Jose, CA, recently became the largest US city to prohibit natural gas from many residential and commercial properties as part of the municipality’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The City Council approved Mayor Sam Liccardo’s proposal to introduce an ordinance that would ban the energy source from new single-family homes, detached granny flats, and low-rise multi-family buildings starting next year. Some large commercial buildings would be affected, too.
By passing this rule, construction companies would be forced to build electric infrastructure. Critics say this would dramatically raise the cost of heating, but proponents note that it is a worthwhile price because buildings are responsible for about one-quarter of California’s emissions.
San Jose is not the first California city to adopt this policy as several jurisdictions have introduced similar measures. Berkeley was one of the latest, and Los Angeles and Palo Alto are considering methods that would curb natural gas consumption. Seattle might also be keen on limiting the prevalence of natural gas, though some lawmakers have been slowing down the legislative blitzkrieg in recent weeks.
And it is not just natural gas consumption that is being targeted. Some states are actively going after production efforts, too.
In recent months, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has declared war on natural gas. New York has blocked the construction of important pipelines, citing environmental concerns.
For instance, a 124-mile pipeline between New York and Pennsylvania was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which would be responsible for huge volumes of natural gas in the northeast, but the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected a required water quality permit that prevented its expansion. The federal government has intervened and there is speculation that the pipeline could go back into operation in the coming weeks. Until then, the region will endure higher energy costs, unlike the rest of the country that gets to enjoy lower bills.
Pennsylvania has also joined in this pushback, refusing to issue permits for pipelines.
Natural Gas is Worse Than Coal
This is the new battle that natural gas producers are facing nationwide. Eco zealots are no longer on board with a cheap and environmentally friendly resource. To tree huggers, it is an all or nothing approach; Vox recently argued that there should be no “middle ground” for natural gas. This might be why this side of the issue believes it is justified in passing around urban legends.
It has been said that natural gas is as bad or even worse than coal. Yes, some really believe this! So, is it true? The International Energy Agency (IEA) disagrees, writing in a recent report:
“Our detailed assessment of today’s lifecycle emissions of gas and coal supply finds that switching to natural gas yields significant emissions reductions in nearly all cases.
In 2018, gas on average resulted in 33% fewer emissions than coal per unit of heat used in industry and buildings, and 50% fewer emissions than coal per unit of electricity generated.
We estimate that up to 1.2 gigatonnes of CO2 could be abated in the short term by switching from coal to existing gas-fired plants, if relative prices and regulation are supportive.”
In the US, natural gas is powering nearly half of the nation and sending coal into an early grave. What makes it great is that it should, in theory, satisfy all parties, thanks to its abundance, affordability, and minimal environmental impact to the planet. For those concerned about potential methane side effects, studies have found that most of the harmful consequences to the planet are primarily due to operational inefficiencies, and not the resource itself. This is evident in the fact that the nation’s CO2 emissions have plunged to 30-year lows.
The rest of the world is experiencing a seismic shift in energy demands. China, for instance, is shifting away from coal and crude oil to natural gas. Although demand growth has slowed from last year’s pace because of a slumping economy, Beijing is still estimated to see its consumption rise 10% to 310 billion cubic meters, down from 17.5% in 2018. Overall, demand is expected to grow 1.6% a year until 2024.
Is Natural Gas a Bridge Fuel?
Do the top-tier Democratic candidates really want to curb hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and natural gas? Considering the many victories the US economy has enjoyed because of the shale revolution, turning the nation into Saudi America, it would be economic suicide to impose restrictions in favor of inefficient wind turbines and crony solar panels just to appease whiny and petulant children from #ClimateAction. Natural gas is cheap and plentiful, and if it is a bridge fuel to something better, then let the market determine that not politicians who think men can have abortions or believe cow flatulence should be taxed. For now, the next time we see a decline in our energy bills, give natural gas a toast. No, really – put some bread in the toaster and feel the savings!