Sure, natural gas still produces carbon emissions. But could it help to provide a bridge from coal and gasoline to a cleaner and greener future? A new report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), recently presented to the U.S. government, says ‘yes.’
This comprehensive study of the future of natural gas was conducted by an MIT Energy Initiative group comprised of 30 faculty members, researchers, and graduate students, and can be found online, summarized in an 83-page report. Major findings/recommendations include: 1) U.S. CO2 reduction policy should create a level playing field where all energy technologies can compete, subject to legislated CO2 emissions goals, without long-term subsidies or other preferential policy treatment, while facilitating energy demand reductions and displacing a percentage of coal generation with natural gas; 2) Since natural gas issues will appear more frequently in the U.S. energy and security agendas, energy issues should be integrated into U. S. foreign policy; 3) Public information on the production process for natural gas should be increased and integrated regional water use and disposal plans for gas production also should be required; 4) The government should bolster research into the development of shale gas while engaging in research to reduce water usage and other environmental impacts of drilling.
Part of the vision afforded by the new MIT study is one in which natural gas will play a leading role in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades by replacing older, inefficient coal plants with highly efficient combined-cycle gas generation.