- Why is natural gas considered a clean fuel?
- Is natural gas a domestic energy source?
- How much natural gas is used in the United States for electricity?
- What is natural gas used for?
- What are some other uses for natural gas?
- How much natural gas is there?
- Is the transportation of natural gas safe?
- What is hydraulic fracturing?
- Why is hydraulic fracturing important?
- What exactly are fracturing fluids made of?
- What steps are taken during well construction to protect drinking water?
- Has hydraulic fracturing ever caused contamination of drinking water?
Why is natural gas considered a clean fuel?
Natural gas is considered the cleanest fossil fuel because it produces emissions
much lower than those of other fossil fuels. Natural gas is efficient, with 92 percent
of natural gas produced being delivered to customers as usable energy; on an energy
equivalent basis, natural gas emits 45 percent less C02 than coal and 27 percent
less CO2 than oil, making it the best fossil fuel source available to reduce greenhouse
Is natural gas a domestic energy source?
Natural gas is primarily a domestic energy source. In 2010, 88 percent of the natural
gas consumed in the United States was produced in the U.S. The remaining supply
came from Canada (10.5 percent), with 1.5 percent imported as liquefied natural
How much natural gas is used in the United States for electricity?
Because of its efficiency and environmental benefits, the use of natural gas to
generate electricity has increased dramatically during the past 11 years—of
the more than 240 gigawatts of net summer electric generation capacity added since
1999, over 87 percent has been fueled with natural gas. Natural gas currently generates
approximately 23 percent of total U.S. electricity.
What is natural gas used for?
Natural gas serves approximately 65 million homes; 5 million businesses
like hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools and supermarkets; 207,000 factories;
and 1,800 electric generating units. On a daily basis, the average U.S. home uses
more than 200 cubic feet of natural gas.
What are some other uses for natural gas?
Natural gas, as it comes out of the ground, may contain several different hydrocarbon
components that can be separated from the gas stream at a gas processing or “stripping”
plant. Commonly at the stripping plants, propane, butane, raw gasoline and sometimes
ethane or other heavier hydrocarbons are removed, which are then available for a
multitude of industrial and consumer uses. Natural gas also is a vital
ingredient for the production of many alternative and renewable energy sources.
It is used to manufacture lightweight steel for fuel-efficient cars and trucks,
to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, as a component of windmill blades for wind
energy and to grow the corn needed for ethanol.
How much natural gas is there?
The domestic natural gas resource base is large, estimated to be 2,500 trillion
cubic feet, enough to meet current U.S. consumption for another 100 years. According
to Dr. Sam Ameri from West Virginia University, there are over 100 trillion cubic
feet in West Virginia alone.
Is the transportation of natural gas safe?
There are nearly 2.4 million miles of pipeline of varying sizes and pressures that
transport natural gas from the wellhead to 70 million industrial, commercial and
residential customers throughout the U.S. According to the National Transportation
Safety Board, pipelines are the safest form of energy transportation—safer
than transportation by truck or rail.
What is hydraulic fracturing?
Put simply, hydraulic fracturing is a technology used to stimulate the flow of energy
from new and existing oil and gas wells. Hydraulic fracturing was first commercially
employed in 1948. The well is lined with cemented steel casing. By creating or even
restoring millimeter-thick fissures, the surface area of a formation exposed to
the borehole increases and the fracture provides a conductive path that connects
the reservoir to the well. These new paths increase the rate that fluids can be
produced from the reservoir formations.
Why is hydraulic fracturing important?
Hydraulic fracturing is an environmentally responsible way to make the most of our
American energy resources, while limiting disturbance to our environment. Without
it, wells that would have run dry years ago, or which never would have been productive
in the first place, are made viable. Experts believe 60 to 80 percent of all wells
drilled in the United States in the next ten years will require fracturing to remain
What exactly are fracturing fluids made of?
The main ingredient in fracturing fluid is water. Pure water makes up 99.5 percent of the fluid mixture. Other ingredients each serve a critical purpose in the fracturing
process. Sand keeps fractures open, allowing oil or natural gas to reach the well
and rise to the surface for collection. Water alone is not the most effective carrier
of sand, so the mixture must be made more viscous or gel-like. The most common material
used to gel the water is guar, which is made from guar beans (and which you will
likely find in many of your favorite processed foods). In addition, nitrogen gas
may be added to foam the mixture for better transport down the well. To help in
the recovery process, an enzyme or oxidizer breaks the fluid back down from its
gelled state to a more liquid state so it can be collected. Other ingredients in
fracturing fluid could affect your health—if you were exposed to them in excessive
quantities. However, the concentration of these elements during the hydraulic fracturing
process is far below the levels necessary to pose a threat.
What steps are taken during well construction to protect drinking water?
Well construction processes are designed to ensure maximum protection of the water
supply and nearby ecosystems. Each well is lined with steel pipe casing that extends
below the depth of any shallow aquifers and below an impervious layer of rock that
would prevent any migration of fluids up into the drinking water supply. Production
casing is used at depths below the surface casing, keeping any fluids or other material
in the wellbore from entering the surrounding rock formations. To further ensure
the protection of the surface water aquifers, state regulation requires a protective
cement shield to be installed outside of the pipe to prevent any accidental migration
of fluids or gases into the water-bearing zones.
Has hydraulic fracturing ever caused contamination of drinking water?
No. There has never been a documented instance of water contamination caused by
hydraulic fracturing. The engineering practices perfected over the last 60 years,
as well as effective state regulation, ensure the integrity of the water supply
and the environment. Both Environmental Protection Agency and the Ground Water Protection
Council have released extensive studies declaring the practice safe and the fluids