NG and the Environment

Introduction

As a source of energy, natural gas releases far fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases than either oil or coal. Most natural gas recovery in the USA, until recently, has been from natural, underground reservoirs, using processes similar in many ways to those used in the extraction of oil. Indeed, many reservoirs tapped for oil contain natural gas.


However, recent development of processes for economical extraction of natural gas from shale formations have increased public concern about the environmental effect of those processes. Those concerns include the overuse and contamination of water tables, land misuse, threat to endangered species and other environmental problems.


Additionally, methane, of which natural gas is almost entirely composed, is a gas with a greenhouse warming effect several times that of carbon dioxide. Leakage of methane into the atmosphere is a potential problem in its impact on the global climate and must be carefully monitored in any natural gas extraction process.