Of all the fossil fuels, coal is by and large the most easily accessible and also most sharply criticized. Coal is known for producing copious quantities of noxious fumes and greenhouse gases. The continued use of coal in power generation across the world remains one of the major stumbling blocks in achieving key goals in air pollution.
And coal’s effects are evident in daily life. Old industrial cities in the 19th century were known to be shrouded in thick layers of smog and soot. Even today, working in close proximity to power plants that run on coal is a known health hazard, contributing to a whole array of respiratory diseases.
It would be strange, then, for the primary contender for replacing this most noxious of polluters would be another fossil fuel source. To the surprise of some, natural gas holds the key to ending coal dependence. Natural gas produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions among the fossil fuels, and developments have made natural gas a more readily available and economic fuel source.
The growing volume of natural gas plants has already made a visible impact toward greater sustainability, thus making possible a wide-scale decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in recent years. Already, an unprecedented number of coal plant closures has significantly contributed to meeting and exceeding emission reduction goals set out in the Waxman-Markey legislation. Meanwhile, watchdog organizations like the Sierra Club remain optimistic that further reductions can be achieved, provided the continuation of current trends.
Brian Alfaro helms Primera Energy, LLC, a Texas-based energy company dedicated to innovative and environmentally sound methods of petroleum and natural gas exploration and extraction. Visit this blog for more updates on the energy industry.