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Natural Gas

Natural Gas

Natural gas. It’s cheap, abundant and supplies are growing. While natural gas emits less CO2 than oil and coal, extraction through hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- has environmentalists concerned. Here’s Dr Scott Tinker with more.

"Natural gas is versatile, abundant, and cleaner – but still not totally clean. It powers industry, heats homes, makes electricity, and fuels transportation. Natural gas plays a role in every energy area. And the price is predicted to remain low – largely because supplies are growing, not declining. Natural gas that was once stranded, in places like the Arabian Gulf, is now moving around the world, on tankers. And in the US – and many other countries, including China and India, the big energy consumers of the developing world – hydraulic fracturing is producing natural gas where it was previously not possible.

It’s still a fossil fuel, so burning it produces carbon dioxide. But a third less than oil, and only half as much as coal.
On camera: Natural gas itself is also a greenhouse gas, 20 times more potent than CO2, so we’ll need to minimize accidental releases of it.

Still, environmentalists are mostly positive on gas. But not so much on hydraulic fracturing.
The oil and gas industry has been fracking for 60 years, but never on this scale. And never so close to people’s houses.
This has got some people worried that fracking will contaminate water supplies. And government regulators are looking hard at this issue.

But there are only three large-scale choices for baseload power: coal, nuclear and natural gas. If we’re not going to grow the first two, that leaves gas. So natural gas is a cheap, abundant power source that could help all of us reduce our carbon emissions. But how will we reconcile our opposition to fracking with our need for natural gas?"

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