The Nature of Natural Gas: A Guide to Understanding the Impact of Natural Gas on the Environment

Vista AdminBlog

Concern for the environment is not just a recent political movement. It has become such an important issue, close to American hearts, that companies have been under increasing pressure to comply with environmental health standards. Consumer reviews, even Vista Energy’s reviews, have demanded companies answer the question of environmental health. No company is immune, and some of the best companies that have thrived most in recent years are the ones that spearheaded clever innovations to ensure that “going environmentally friendly” is not code for “going bankrupt”. The natural gas industry has had its share of accusations and investigations, especially considering the pipelines built to make distribution possible. Complaints about Vista Energy and other natural gas suppliers naturally followed suit as consumers demanded to know the environmental implications of natural gas.

Our Take on the Concerns

At Vista Energy, we fully understand the grievances or misconceptions that people may have regarding the use of natural gas and the notion of it being a fossil fuel that harms the environment. After all, we share the same concerns and are just as passionate about creating a greener, cleaner and safer Earth for the future generations.

We advise all our customers and critics to develop a better understanding of fuel consumption, environmental degradation, and the natural gas supply system so that they can know for themselves whether natural gas is an environmental friend or foe. It starts with an understanding of the history.

Evolution of Energy Sources through the Years

Let’s first face a universal and resolute fact: humans need energy. Our entire lives are built upon it. The need is not going anywhere but is in fact increasing as we consume more energy than ever. The question becomes how do we make our energy consumption as sustainable as possible.

Energy consumption patterns have changed quite drastically since the mid 19th century. Back then, the average American family was hugely reliant on wood as an energy resource. Once the industrial revolution made its mark, people started using water mills to power production facilities. Eventually, coal became an integral part of the US power industry and the economy as a whole. Though coal reigned supreme for quite some time, it eventually lost its significance in the power sector to petroleum based products. This was also the time when the use of natural gas became more prominent.

Despite the many forms of energy we’ve experimented with through the ages, it would be fair to say that coal, natural gas, and petroleum have been the three major energy sources in the United States for well over a century. These three power sources are responsible for approximately 87% of the total primary energy supply in the United States.

Even though people are looking to replace fossil fuels with cleaner and greener alternatives, it is highly likely that natural gas and petroleum will continue to be extremely important to our economy in the near future.

Why Would Natural Gas Be Considered Bad for the Environment?

Contrary to popular belief, not all fossil fuels are responsible for global warming and not all of them are bad for the environment. However, as is the case with any energy resource, there are some concerns regarding the consumption of natural gas that need to be addressed. Understanding these facts makes it much easier to understand whether natural gas is as detrimental to the environment as people may think.

Natural Gas is a Greenhouse Gas

When we talk about greenhouse gasses, the first name that comes to our mind is carbon dioxide. This is because CO2 is the most prevalent greenhouse gas and one that has the potential to inflict the most damage on the environment because of the sheer volume of gas that is emitted into the atmosphere. That being said, it is important to remember that natural gas, or methane, is also a greenhouse gas and that nearly 60% of total methane emissions are a result of human activities. It is worth noting that CO2 lasts much longer in the atmosphere than natural gas does which clearly makes it the more harmful of the two.

Natural Gas is Non-Renewable

Given the current rate of consumption, natural gas sources are likely to eventually deplete at some point in the future. But it is important to remember that natural gas is going to last a lot longer than other fossil fuels that are as important to the economy.

Fracking Is a Serious Environmental Concern

Hydraulic fracking is the process by which natural gas suppliers have unearthed enormous amounts of oil and natural gas across the United States. One of the problems with fracking is that it requires large volumes of water which only adds to the growing shortage of clean water supply across the world. There is also the issue of chemicals being injected into the wells which opens up the possibility of groundwater contamination. Still more, according to some people, fracking can give rise to regional earthquakes. However, these tremors are too small to cause any significant damage.

Environmental concerns regarding hydraulic fracking do not always have to come back to natural gas because this is not the only process of extracting the fossil fuel.

Natural Gas is the Cleanest Fossil Fuel

People who talk about the problems of using natural gas often fail to mention the fact that this is by far the cleanest fossil fuel that is present in great abundance. Studies have consistently shown that natural gas is extremely efficient as an energy resource and one that is suitable for a wide range of applications including powering homes, schools and businesses across the country.

Some noteworthy facts about the cleanest fossil fuel in the world:

• Burning natural gas produces 45% less CO2 than burning coal does. It even produces less C02 than wood.

• Natural gas combustion is extremely efficient, producing heat, water vapor and CO2 in the process.

• The burning of natural gas leads to a negligible release of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, dissolved solids or other harmful airborne particulates. These compounds are all extremely detrimental to human and animal health.

• Natural gas is more abundant, cost-effective and efficient than some of the popular renewable energy resources such as biofuels, wind and solar.

• The extraction of natural gas is much safer than the production of nuclear energy

Selecting natural gas automatically lowers our reliance on other more harmful and less abundant fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. In other words, switching over to natural gas can actually help lower the rates of carbon emissions, smog, and acid rain. Not to mention, the impact of greenhouse gasses will be significantly reduced and people can actively participate in slowing down global warming.

Natural Gas Is the Ideal Source of Energy for Electricity Generation

In the face of global energy crisis, people are turning towards natural gas to meet their electricity demands because it is the cleanest and most reliable fossil fuel that we have today. Natural gas is cheap for the consumer, and a big employer for the economy. According to the Natural Gas Alliance, natural gas supply is currently responsible for 2.8 million jobs. It also plays a significant role in making renewable energy viable by diversifying the electricity mix.

There is no denying the fact that there will always be diverging opinions about natural gas. However, given that there is a real need for fossil fuels to keep powering our economy, natural gas is without a doubt the best option we currently have available to us.