Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's NOT Alright Now - In fact it's a Gas

Pointing out that liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipped overseas causes more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than domestically burning an equally energetic amount of coal omits the fact that, in Maryland's case, we are the second largest exporter of coal in the country. A case could be made that exporting LNG will be less carbon polluting than exporting coal if the coal shipments were set to decrease as LNG shipments increased. Since Arch Coal just filed for bankruptcy and President Obama has made the executive decision to ban coal extraction on federal lands, it's becoming more likely that the trend of decreasing coal exports will continue, lending support to this rationalization for LNG exports.

No more coal allowed out of 30% of U.S. ground

Obversely, while Maryland's endogenous electricity generation from natural gas amounts to only 5 to 15% of its total generating capacity, 44% of Maryland's electricity comes from outside the state. The U.S., as a whole, relies on natural gas for at least 27% of it's electricity generation.  As coal declines and natural gas prices slump, the amount of U.S. capacity for generating electricity from the former is likely to decline, raising the reliance on natural gas and exposing large sections of the country (including Maryland) to dramatic price swings in electricity. The reputation of natural gas (fracked gas, especially) is sullied each week by infrastructure failures that cause egregious violations of public health and safety. We should do our best to divest ourselves of gas power, while taking additional measures to prevent leaks like the catastrophe in California.

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