Is your kitchen the next battleground over the greenhouse gases?
Natural gas has been viewed as a “clean” alternative, but it got that moniker back when the lion’s share of electricity was generated by coal. With coal on the dwindle, there is a new interest in what natural gas leaves behind. For every million BTUs generated by coal, between 214 and 228 pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. While cleaner, natural gas still releases 117 pounds of CO2 while propane releases 139 pounds for each million BTUs. But that’s only part of the natural gas story. Extraction of natural gas can leak as much as 9 percent in methane – a gas 34-times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a century and 86-times stronger over 20 years.
For those still smart enough to be following the Paris climate accord, strong reductions in greenhouse gas production are translating into rapid diminishment of gas appliances and home heating use. Europe is looking at gas-based appliances being phased out in the next decade.
Closer to home, Berkley, California, became the first U.S. municipality to ban the installation of new gas lines into new multi-family buildings. And they’re not alone. Over 50 cities and counties in California are looking at similar bans while the state is also looking at the issue. The reason is simple. It’s estimated that a quarter of greenhouse gases produced by a building come from gas appliances and heating.