While many people look to natural gas as a climate savior it is neither clean nor is it cheap. Much of the easily accessible gas has already been extracted, remaining gas is harder to extract and more expensive. To access this gas requires the infamous practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as it is colloquially known. This comes with a large spectrum of problems from contaminated ground water to earthquakes.
While it may have half of the carbon load of coal, it also leaks vast quantities of methane, another potent greenhouse gas. Further, the ongoing expansion of natural gas puts downward pressure on the growth of truly clean and renewable sources of energy. An October 2014 study titled Climate Change: A Crack in the Natural Gas Bridge shows that expanding natural gas would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term. Inexpensive natural gas would also accelerate economic growth and expand overall energy use.
“The effect is that abundant natural gas alone will do little to slow climate change,” said lead author Haewon McJeon, an economist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.