Natural Gas Delivery System


    • What are the current concerns regarding natural gas delivery systems in the United States? What can be done to improve them?

    One of the most pressing concerns is with regards to safety incidents  that result from leakage. Most of the current pipeline system was  constructed decades ago in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and as of today, a  majority of these pipes can’t be inspected properly using a “PIG” or  pipeline inspection gauge. Air pollutants, including methane, nitrogen  oxides, sulfur dioxide and other hazardous air toxics can escape into  the air unintentionally due corrosion of pipes and improper installation  or maintenance of pipes. Work is being done within the industry to make  the “pigs” more lightweight and accurate in detecting corrosion,  cracks, and defects within pipelines.

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    Natural gas is often referred to as a ‘bridge’ fuel? What is meant by this, and is this moniker valid?

    The ‘bridge fuel’ metaphor is used to describe an option for energy  production that can be used as an alternative to a more dominant energy  source that is unsustainable. In the US, natural gas was touted as a  bridge fuel because it burns cleaner than coal and was meant to provide  the US more time to pursue sustainable energies. Natural gas, however,  still emits plenty of harmful pollutants like methane gas which can get  into surrounding water sources and spread further. As we work towards  more sustainable energy production, it’s important to see this metaphor  as one in which natural gas is the bridge, renewable energy is the  destination, and in order to arrive there, we need to ensure that  renewable energy/alternative forms of energy become cost-efficient.

    • What are the benefits or consequences involved with liquefying  natural gas in order to export gas acquired from the Marcellus and Utica  shales?

    There are definite economic benefits to having increased gas  production by the Marcellus shale in that natural gas prices  domestically have lowered, but by exporting LNG, it would reduce  domestic supply and therefore increase gas prices again. As well, there  are also environmental consequences involved with LNG such as air  pollution and methane leaks.

    • What impact does the discovery of the Marcellus and Utica shales have on US energy policy overall?

    The discovery of these shales doesn’t seem to have had a huge impact  on overall energy policy, mostly it has impacted locally because the  shale is spread out across several states. One of the earliest studies  done regarding the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania showed that local  residents were able to benefit from an increase in jobs, and private  landowners were also able to make money by allowing development on their  land with sometimes additional royalties on production. However, even  with more money going into the local economy, the public didn’t know  about information like waste reports, locations of well pads, and  regulatory violations. In these early years of the Marcellus shale’s  development, citizens began to request for more transparency and launch  different data collection initiatives. A result of this within the last  10 years would be the FracTracker Alliance which is a non-profit  organization that was developed to investigate health concerns and  data gaps surrounding western PA fracking. They also help to support  other groups in the US addressing extraction-related concerns like  health effects and exposure risks.  

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