Natural gas is a clever name for methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is extracted using hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a process famous for polluting water and air. Stunning new gas projects threaten the Pacific Northwest.
Why care about natural gas?
- It ain’t natural
Natural gas is a clever name for methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is extracted using hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a process famous for polluting water and air. Methane is about as natural as coal, oil, and other fossil fuels. Burning it is not good for our planet.
- Stunning new gas projects threaten the Pacific Northwest
I admit, I had to look up the definition of “methanol” when a company called Northwest Innovation Works first proposed a methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington. Methanol is a chemical used for making plastic, among other things. The company, backed by the Chinese government, wants to refine U.S. methane into methanol to make plastics overseas. We get the pollution, someone else gets the profit. The methanol refinery would use more fracked gas than all natural gas-fired power plants in Washington put together. Add to that new proposed pipelines and power plants. This is a fossil fuel rush like we have not seen before.
- Coal to gas gets us nowhere fast
Portland General Electric plans to replace 500 megawatts of electricity produced by coal in Boardman, Oregon, with 1300 megawatts of electricity produced by natural gas at the same location. We can meet our energy needs with efficiency and renewable energy. We don’t need new gas-fired power plants. Expanding our reliance on fossil fuel power is a huge step in the wrong direction. The natural gas industry claims that burning natural gas to produce electricity is better for our climate than burning coal. Yes, coal produces more carbon dioxide when it burns. But, when scientists evaluate the total greenhouse gas emissions—including the methane that escapes during fracking and piping—natural gas is not the coal replacement we need.
- New pipelines threaten families and farms
Natural gas pipeline proposals in Washington and Oregon could take private property for corporate gain. This is un-American. Families in Kalama are having their land surveyed—against their wishes—for a pipeline to the methanol refinery to ship U.S. natural gas to China. Eminent domain for private gain is not fair. And building huge pipelines through our rivers, wetlands, and forests would permanently scar the Pacific Northwest.