We’ve already seen how natural gas has been a key driver of significant greenhouse gas reductions in the United States. Now, a new peer reviewed study from Carnegie Mellon University finds that exporting clean-burning natural gas from the United States would help reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, too. According to the corresponding author of the study, Leslie Abrahams:
“We went a step beyond just the emissions from exporting the natural gas and looked at how it might be used when it gets to its destination, such as to displace traditional fuels or other forms of natural gas.”
Despite running multiple scenarios the outcome was the same: increased LNG exports from the United States will help reduce GHG emissions in importing countries. As the study concludes,
“From a global emissions perspective, this study has shown that exporting LNG can help to reduce life cycle GHG emissions from electricity generation and industrial heating.”
Notably, the study also addresses methane emissions, noting that exports from the United States would have far lower emissions than exports from Russia to European countries:
“When considering a 100-year GWP, mean life cycle emissions from exported U.S. LNG are 13% lower than those from Russian natural gas exports, and result in about 45% fewer emissions than traditional electricity generation.” (Pg. E)
One of the reasons for this, according to the report, is that methane leakage rates from natural gas production in Russia are between 5-7 percent, while methane leakage rates are significantly lower in the United States. As EID has noted on many occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency put the U.S. methane leakage rate at around 1.5 percent, which is well below the threshold for natural gas to maintain clear environmental benefits.
Besides a positive environmental impact, we already know that LNG exports will also provide significant economic benefits here at home. Dominion Resources is currently working on retro fitting an LNG import facility to export LNG to global allies. According to the company, the Cove Point Maryland project will produce more than 3,000 construction jobs during the three-year period and create 75 new jobs once in operations. The project will also create a new long term revenue stream for Calvert County, Maryland which is scheduled to receive $40 million a year on average.
Fuels previously used for electricity generation, industrial processes, heat and transportation have been offset by affordable and abundant natural gas being produced here at home. Because of this development, U.S. GHG emissions have continued to fall year over year. And, with the United States now leading the world as the largest producer of natural gas, we can help developing countries reduce their emissions while expanding their economies and ours.