The natural gas industry and its allies have lately portrayed natural gas as a "clean bridge fuel" to a more benign energy future for America. They and their political allies have called for legislation providing incentives that promote the wider use of natural gas.
But is natural gas as clean as its propoents claim? It is true that combustion of natural gas as a boiler fuel for electric power generation generates half the carbon emissions of coal. But in order to label a fuel "clean," its full life-cycle impacts on the environment must be accounted for. The bottom line is that the extraction of natural gas can and does inflict severe impacts on air and water quality and on wildlife habitats and populations. It is important to ensure that natural gas development does not take place in especially sensitive environments — such as proposed wilderness areas or in proximity to fragile cultural sites — and that proper safeguards are put in place to protect sensitive ecosystems from the overwhelming degradation that extensive natural gas infrastructure can inflict.
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