Gas industry representatives are sharply critical of a new report charging that expanding the use of natural gas could be as damaging to the environment and global warming as burning coal.
The Toxics Action Center and other environmental groups released a report last week alleging that additional use of gas to serve power plants and other customers would release detrimental greenhouse gases, canceling out gas’s benefits as a clean-burning fuel.
The report is being cited by a number of environmental groups, including those opposed to a $3 billion expansion of a natural gas pipeline that would traverse Southeastern Massachusetts.
American Gas Association Manager of Energy Analysis and Standards Richard Meyer criticized the report, “Natural Gas and Global Warming: A Review of Evidence Finds that Methane Leaks undercut the Climate Benefits of Gas,” and said the study appeared to favor certain data to support its position on gas.
“This study cherry picks data to serve a pre-determined conclusion,” Meyer wrote in an email. “The fact is the current science on natural gas emissions shows that natural gas is a clean and reliable energy source that has significantly contributed to carbon dioxide emissions reductions over the past ten years.”
He said the Toxics Action study cited 2013 EPA data as evidence that emissions of methane were underestimated. However, he said a 2016 update showed that the rate of leaks from natural gas production was only 1.4 percent.
“Natural gas remains a fuel of choice for consumers because of its low cost, efficient end uses and environmental attributes,” Meyer wrote. “This domestically produced and abundant energy source is poised to serve as a foundation fuel for the U.S. economy for years to come.”
Tom Kiley, president and CEO of the Northeast Gas Association, wrote in an email that the “environmental performance of natural gas in the U.S. and the region is strong and improving.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in April that since 1990 methane emissions in the United States from natural gas systems are actually down almost 15 percent, Kiley wrote.