Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas Is A Dreadful Idea For The Climate

By Joe Romm on March 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

The crisis in Ukraine has rekindled arguments that the U.S. should export shale gas, supposedly to diminish the threat posed by Russia’s “energy weapon.” Sadly, few seem to care about diminishing the threat posed by climate change, since it has become increasingly clear that LNG would make things worse.

I explained back in June 2012 why “exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) is bad for the climate.” That analysis predated multiple studies that make clear that “by the time natural gas has a net climate benefit you’ll likely be dead and the climate ruined.”

So we’re in double jeopardy with LNG. First, natural gas is mostly methane, (CH4), a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. So even small leaks in the natural gas production and delivery system can have a large climate impact — enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas.

Sadly, many recent studies find that there are sizable leaks. A February study from Stanford reported that “A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates. Leaks from the nation’s natural gas system are an important part of the problem”.

That study of studies found a best estimate for life-cycle natural gas leakage of a whopping 5.4 percent (+/- 1.8 percent). And that means replacing coal plants with gas plants would be worse for the climate for more than 6 decades.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

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