It’s been hailed as a clean, cost-effective alternative to gasoline – as well as coal – but there are some new doubts being raised about the environmental benefits of natural gas.
The fuel has been gaining support, especially in the auto industry, where proponents are pressing to get more manufacturers to offer compressed natural gas, or CNG, options. And with production rapidly expanding along with the increased of fracking-style drilling, even President Obama is lending his support as a way to reduce both America’s dependence upon foreign oil and the production of global-warming CO2 gas.
But a new study by a group of scientists from various federal labs, as well as MIT, Stanford, Harvard and four other universities is throwing that optimism into question. If anything, natural gas “is not likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” cautions the study’s lead author Adam Brandt, of Stanford. At best, switching a car from gasoline to CNG is “on the borderline in terms of (the benefits to) the climate,” he says.