Not all fossil fuels are created equal. Natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants than oil, coal or propane. And despite its wide and ever-growing use, residential natural gas accounts for just 4% of total greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.
Production and consumption of natural gas has increased substantially across the United States in recent years, and carbon emissions have declined precipitously as a result. Thanks primarily to natural gas’s replacement of higher emitting fuels such as coal and petroleum, the U.S.’s annual CO2 emissions have been reduced to their lowest level since the early 1990s. Coal-related emissions in particular have declined by more than one billion metric tons from 2005 to 2019.
Natural gas production and consumption has also achieved great efficiency improvements in recent years. Thanks to investment in new and upgraded infrastructure, emissions from the natural gas distribution system have declined 73% nationwide since 1990. Meanwhile, upgrades in residential equipment have resulted in National Fuel’s average residential customer consuming 40% less natural gas than they did in 1970 – and reducing their carbon footprint from 10.4 metric tons in 1970 to under 5.9 metric tons today.
Renewable natural gas, which is produced from plant and animal waste, offers even more promising emissions reduction potential. A recent study by the American Gas Foundation found that by 2040, as much as 4,513 trillion Btu of renewable natural gas could be produced annually, which could provide an estimated 95% reduction in the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions from the residential sector.
While expanded use of wind, solar and other renewables will be mission-critical for helping achieve New York State's emissions reductions goals established in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), natural gas and associated infrastructure can complement renewables by providing a low-carbon solution to support variations in renewable power production. Electricity generated from gas, particularly renewable natural gas or natural gas coupled with carbon capture technologies, provides the opportunity for a low-carbon solution to balance fluctuations in renewable electric generation.
In addition, emerging technologies such as Power-to-Gas (P2G) and hydrogen production offer the possibility of converting excess renewable electric to a form of energy that may be stored and later delivered using existing gas infrastructure to enhance reliability and manage the costs of transitioning to a low-carbon future.
Natural gas provides the most affordable form of energy available today, with oil over 1.5x and electric nearly 4x the cost of natural gas. Throughout Western New York, today’s residential energy bills are about half of what they were 10+ years ago – a savings of $815 per average annual bill – providing an economic stimulus for individuals, families and businesses throughout the region.
According to the American Gas Association, the average annual cost for residential hot water heating was $613 when using electric resistance, compared to just $253 when using natural gas (and just $174 when using tankless natural gas).
The industry supports the direct employment of thousands in our local communities, in addition to utilizing the products and services of local vendors, contractors and labor.
National Fuel services over 498,000 homes; 35,000 businesses including restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools and supermarkets; 429 industrial facilities and 3 electric generating facilities in Western New York. This strong and growing demand extends far beyond Western New York, as more than 60 percent of New York homes use natural gas currently.
And while the U.S. natural gas system has added 12.4 million residential customers in the last 20 years, total consumption has actually remained stable during that period, thanks to remarkable improvements in energy efficiency.
National Fuel's customers experienced over 99.8% reliability in 2019. Natural gas facilities are storm resilient and provide safe, reliable service in the most extreme weather and temperature conditions. And as a result, homes and businesses rely on natural gas generators, hot water tanks, cooktops and fireplaces — even when the power goes out.
And natural gas’s reliability is poised to continue for generations, as the United States has enough dry natural gas to last nearly 100 years.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest form of energy transportation available today. In 2019 alone, National Fuel invested more than $57 million on system safety and reliability in its NYS utility operation.
The Company also continues to invest in making its transportation and storage infrastructure greener, achieving significant emissions reductions as a result. Since 1990, National Fuel has reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions more than 60%, equivalent to taking 1.34 million passenger vehicles off the road.
The facts listed above originate from the following sources (listed in alphabetical order):