In his State of the Union, President Obama added to the conventional wisdom that supplanting coal with natural gas will act as a bridge toward a climate solution. Unfortunately, gas is more of a gateway drug than a bridge to a clean energy future.
1) It’s still a major greenhouse gas. Sure, natural gas is cleaner than coal, but that’s setting a pretty low bar. Even if my shit smells sweeter than most, it’s still shit.
Natural gas powered electricity still pours 1.22 lbs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every kilowatt-hour of electricity it produces. That’s 6 tons of CO2 per year from every household in America if its electricity were completely generated with natural gas.
And that’s the emissions from the stuff that actually gets to the power plant. The EPA has collected industry-reported data suggested that leakage from the drilling, production, and pipeline process runs close to 1.5 percent. Other studies show much higher leakage rates. At a 2.7 percent leakage rate, gas is no better than coal for the climate.