Nothing Clean About Natural Gas

In response to Patty Hine’s letter (EW 2/4) about the claim that natural gas is a “clean bridge fuel,” it is the case that for a net unit of energy, natural gas releases less CO2 than oil or coal. However, the benefits of natural gas are rendered moot when one considers how it has come to be produced in recent years.

Shale oil and gas fracking represents scraping the barrel of our fossil fuel resources. The wells produce a lot less and deplete much more quickly than the traditional oil and gas wells that characterized the early half of last century. 

The only way that shale oil and gas fracking has accounted for a significant increase in U.S. production has been by drilling a staggering number of wells. Flying into Dallas, the drilling pads make the surrounding countryside look like a patchwork quilt.

The sheer number of wells requires a vast network of piping, valves, pumping stations, etc. Such a sprawling mass of infrastructure invariably includes leaks, releasing natural gas into the atmosphere. Given that methane (natural gas) is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 the claim that it’s a “clean bridge fuel” in addressing climate change doesn’t hold up.

Robert Bolman


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