Natural gas will play an increasingly important role in powering the U.S., doubling its share of the energy market from 20 percent to 40 percent within several decades, according to a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A key reason behind the rise of natural gas is the increasing extraction of gas from underground shale deposits, a controversial practice that poses significant environmental risks.
The report said that another important factor in the rise of natural gas is that it emits significantly less carbon dioxide than coal, helping the U.S. cut its greenhouse gas emissions. But the report said that even though natural gas is cleaner than coal, it still emits large quantities of CO2 and thus will eventually have to be replaced by renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, if the U.S. hopes to attain its goal of slashing CO2 emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050. Written by a panel of energy experts led by MIT professor Ernest J. Moniz, the study noted that the U.S. has made little progress in converting a portion of its vehicle fleet from gasoline to natural gas and suggested a stepped-up effort in that direction. The report was partially funded by the American Clean Skies Foundation, which represents the interests of the natural gas industry.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360