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OilMonster

Natural Gas January 15, 2020 12:30:14 AM

Cheap Natural Gas Could Add 500 Million Tons to U.S. Emissions

Anil
Mathews
OilMonster Author
Access to cheap natural gas has helped displace coal and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Cheap Natural Gas Could Add 500 Million Tons to U.S. Emissions

SEATTLE (Oil Monster): Access to cheap natural gas has helped displace coal and cut greenhouse gas emissions. But it’s also incentivized a massive buildout of fossil-fuel infrastructure along the U.S. Gulf Coast that one study says could increase carbon emissions by half a billion metric tons a year.

A long list of petrochemical plants, liquefied natural gas terminals and other facilities have been proposed or permitted on the Texas and Louisiana coasts as companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., Phillips 66 and Qatar Petroleum seek to tap cheap shale gas from nearby oilfields. If all of them are built, they could add more than 500 million tons of carbon emissions annually by 2030, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters. That’s equal to about 10% of current U.S. emissions, or 131 power plants burning coal.

Natural gas is frequently lauded as a “bridge fuel” -- a substitute for coal and other dirtier energy providers until cheap energy storage makes solar and wind power as flexible a source of energy as fossil fuels. But many environmentalists and some policymakers argue that building costly new infrastructure further commits the U.S. to fossil-fuel dependence at a time when climate change requires a dramatic move toward lower-carbon energy sources.

While past studies have estimated emissions that occur during oil and gas production, there’s less research on emissions from midstream activities -- like shipping hydrocarbons on pipelines -- or downstream ones -- such as turning natural gas fractions into plastics. The new study from the University of Texas at Austin finds that as much as 70% of all emissions from oil and gas buildout could come from midstream and downstream emissions.


Courtesy:www.bloombergquint.com

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