The truth is, natural gas is a major source of affordable and abundant energy. And it is already helping our country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve its air quality.

Yet many people continue to make a stink about it.  Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about natural gas.  

MYTH 1.

Natural gas is just another dirty fossil fuel and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

FACT: The New York Times recently reported carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have fallen by “11 percent since 2005.”

The same report also credits “a boom in cheap natural gas and renewable energy, which has been rapidly displacing dirtier coal-fired power” for helping to fuel the emissions decline. There is more to be done, but natural gas has proven itself to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Methane accounts for no more than 10% of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Of that, 36% comes from the agricultural sector, landfills account for 16%, and coal mining and other sources add another 17%.

The natural gas industry is responsible for about 32% of America’s annual methane emissions.

 

  • Agriculture 36% 36%
  • Coal Mining 17% 17%
  • Landfills 16% 16%

MYTH 2.

In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must stop using natural gas.

FACT: In 2018, emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States rose for the first time since 2014.

What happened to cause this change in a year when more energy was sourced from natural gas and renewable sources than ever before?

In New England, where access to natural gas is limited and renewables can’t cope, a harsh winter forced them to import and burn foreign oil. Harmful emissions spiked, air quality tanked and costs went up.

Emissions from factories and from the transportation sector (planes and trucks) also increased sharply as the economy took off. As an example, industrial sector emissions rose by almost 6% last year.

Natural gas was not the culprit – in fact, increased access to natural gas has offset some of the reliance on coal, gas and diesel.

 

MYTH 3.

Fracking is bad – it leads to tap-water that can be set aflame.

FACT: GasLand, an award-winning film, created an inaccurate perception that natural gas drilling could cause water to become flammable. Scientists and government officials have debunked the theory alleged in the iconic scene from the film. The “homeowner’s own water well had been drilled into a naturally occurring pocket of methane,” a Popular Mechanics story explained.

Like any industry, there’s always room for improvement and we need to continue to focus on even better operational performance.

The good news is that, methane emissions from natural gas systems have fallen by 72% since 1990, even though the industry has added 19 million more customers during the same period.

We should double-down on this work, not cast it aside in favor of expensive, slow-to-deploy, hard-to-scale technologies that offer only marginal advantages.

%

of methane emissions from natural gas systems have fallen since 1990.

%

of the world's electricity by solar power in 2016.

%

of the world's electricity delivered by wind power in 2016.

MYTH 4.

We can do it all with renewables.

FACT: Not right now and not in the near future. Renewable energy isn’t a sustainable option without natural gas, because natural gas is the cleanest, reliable, on-demand resource for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

Renewables like solar and wind currently take a lot of effort to deliver energy. How big a problem is this?

Consider that Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) calculated that public and private sources spent over $1 trillion dollars on solar and around $900 billion on wind in the decade leading up to 2016.

Worldwide, during that same time frame, solar and wind investment was close to $300 billion, each and every year. What was the result of that decade of intense investment?