New Jersey Gets a Nice Holiday Gift from Natural Gas: Cleaner Air

With more natural gas being produced in the United States today than ever before, carbon dioxide and other air emissions have been on the decline, as states increase their use of this clean-burning fuel.  The most recent state to benefit is New Jersey, which recently announced that they meet the new federal standard for particulate matter.

In a press release from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Commissioner Bob Martin stated:

“New Jersey has also become a national leader in the development of renewable energy, while promoting greater use of cleaner burning natural gas. We are confident that, as a result of our sound policies, we will continue to meet the standard for fine particles into the future.” (emphasis added)

Passing the federal test for particulates is a major milestone for New Jersey, and one that will subsequently reduce health impacts from poor air quality. According to Commissioner Martin, “This is good news for the health of our residents, especially the young, the elderly, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.”

There is a clear trend in states that use more natural gas, which include New York, Pennsylvania and now New Jersey. According to an article from The Record:

“The new, cheap supply of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania has also led many power plants to shift from coal to cleaner-burning gas, which has reduced particulates blown into New Jersey. Across Pennsylvania, emissions of sulfur dioxide have dropped 76 percent over five years.” (emphasis added)

And while this was the first federal air standard New Jersey has passed in decades, it’s clear that natural gas is the answer.  Monica Mazurek, an urban air pollution expert at Rutgers University, believes utilizing more natural gas in the state — especially as a transportation fuel — will help further improve air quality:

“Switching diesel vehicles to natural-gas-powered engines would help reduce two persistent sources of fine particle pollution in New Jersey, especially those areas with high traffic volume, to get to this next step, we would need to begin planning and building natural gas refueling stations along our transportation corridors…”

Natural gas – derived from shale development  – has been touted as a game changer by the U.S. EPA for mitigating air pollution throughout the country. Cleaner air quality has already been documented in Pennsylvania, Colorado and now New Jersey (EID has also previously reported on New York City’s improving air quality). With other states looking to expand  their natural gas infrastructure, we should see more even Americans breathing cleaner air in 2015.

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