Natural gas is one of America’s greatest resources. While reserves other resources are diminishing, new drilling technologies and techniques are allowing us to recover natural gas in the huge shale deposits found all across America. A recent Rice University study projects that U.S. shale gas production will more than quadruple by 2040 from 2010 levels of more than 10 billion cubic feet per day, reaching more than 50 percent of total U.S. natural gas production by the 2030s. The study incorporates independent scientific and economic literature on shale costs and resources, including assessments by organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey, the Potential Gas Committee and scholarly peer-reviewed papers of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
As President Obama has pointed out, the energy available from natural gas contained in these shale deposits can provide ample supplies for the next 100 years.
Natural gas is much cleaner than coal, diesel, or gasoline. In fact, natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and a highly efficient form of energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that natural gas is twice as clean as coal.
Natural gas has a lower carbon content and fewer impurities than other fuels, and produces less sulfur dioxide (a primary cause of acid rain) and other pollutants. Natural gas produces 22 to 29 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel- or gasoline-powered vehicles, respectively.
For instance, carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are reduced by more than 90 and 60 percent, respectively, and carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, is reduced by 30 to 40 percent. When used in medium- and heavy-duty engines, CO and particulate matter (PM) reductions of over 90 percent, and NOx reductions of over 50 percent, have been demonstrated compared to diesel engines.
Dr. Joseph Romm, former Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during the Clinton Administration has said: “That’s why it [natural gas] is widely seen, even by groups as green as Greenpeace, as a plausible transition fuel for the next two to three decades as we aggressively ramp up wind, solar PV, concentrated solar thermal, biomass, geothermal, and other ultra-low-carbon energy sources.” Center for American Progress Action Fund Website
There is so much natural gas that there is enough available to, according to one researcher, “displace half of the coal burning power plants [in the United States] by 2020” which would make the environmental targets being discussed in Washington and Brussels well within reach.
Natural gas already has a tremendous advantage, particularly when used for trucks and fleet vehicles. Most trucking today is round trip, one-tank routes. There are approximately 1.5 million miles of gas pipe and distribution lines crisscrossing the country, making natural gas available on nearly every street and community in America today. Building the infrastructure also creates the kinds of jobs we need in the U.S.