Is Natural Gas the Bridge to a Low-Carbon Future?

Natural gas is frequently cited as the ideal fossil fuel bridge to a low-carbon future energy system. For a long time this looked environmentally attractive, although expensive given the prevailing view that the United States would be a major importer of gas. In the past few years, shale gas has changed all that.

Plentiful supplies hold out the promise of decades of low-cost natural gas for America, along with visions of a painless pathway to a vastly lower carbon footprint. A picture potentially as rosy as this probably deserves to be looked at in slightly more detail.

The potential impact of using more natural gas on total carbon emissions depends on the details of how it’s produced, where and how it’s burned, and how much leaks out along the way. It turns out industry has a more important role than you might think.

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