Why Biden’s pause on new LNG export terminals is a BFD

Why Biden’s pause on new LNG export terminals is a BFD

Yale Climate Connections reports:

Natural gas has long been touted as a “bridge fuel” to a clean energy future that gets all its power from renewable sources like wind, solar, and geothermal power. That’s because natural gas produces about half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned to generate electricity. But researchers have warned for years that natural gas — whose main ingredient is climate-warming methane — is not the trouble-free substitute for coal that the oil and gas industry claims.

The long-simmering issue became a top news story in January when President Joe Biden announced he was hitting the pause button on permitting new liquid natural gas, or LNG, export terminals, controversial megaprojects costing billions of dollars along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

“We will take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and our environment,” Biden said in a statement. “This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.”

Why do we care about methane, the main ingredient in natural gas?

While natural gas produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels when burned, methane is a hundred times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. So why is carbon dioxide the evil poster child of climate change?

As MIT’s Jessika Trancik documented in a landmark 2014 paper published in Nature Climate Change, the answer is time. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere trapping heat for up to 1,000 years, whereas methane lasts for about a decade. When both time and heat-trapping capacity are factored in, Trancik documented that methane is 80 times worse than carbon dioxide over 20 years and nearly 30 times worse over the course of a century. [Continue reading…]

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