Letter: Natural gas is still a fossil fuel
National, state, and local agencies and organizations are promoting natural gas as the clean, cost effective, alternative fuel that will give us energy security and a cleaner environment. Local groups such as Garfield Clean Energy, Clean Energy Economy for the Region, and Western Slope Compressed Natural Gas Collaborative are pushing for the adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a transportation fuel for the Western Slope. Recent articles in The Post Independent suggest that CNG infrastructure will be in place soon for fueling converted and dedicated CNG vehicles.
Even as the debate concerning energy development rages on, both in Garfield County and around the country, few of us would argue against clean air and water and efficient energy development. And on the surface, CNG, especially as a transportation fuel for buses and local “fleet” trucks, appears to be too good to be true.
And it may be. The controversial research of Cornell scientist Robert Howarth, and others, reminds us that natural gas, in whatever phase, is still a fossil fuel, and that the current drilling technology known as hydro-fracturing is inefficient — more than we’ve been lead to believe. In an April 2011 statement found at http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/web/Marcellus.html Howarth says:
“We urge caution in viewing natural gas as good fuel choice for the future, particularly as a transportation fuel where natural gas is no more efficient than diesel oil or gasoline, and where additional fugitive methane emissions … seem likely during refueling operations.”
The webpage has a link to a letter written in 2009 by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents to President Obama. In the letter it is recommended that “… no policy should be implemented without a full understanding of the consequences on the environment.” Unfortunately, it appears that CNG propaganda and policy have gone ahead of comprehensive scientific review, though it’s safe to assume that CNG proponents have their own version of the science on the subject.
Ignoring the caution, and CNG infrastructure having been installed, natural gas development is justified after the fact. This kind of retro-rationale will not help in solving our problem.
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