What is the Environmental Impact?
Vehicles:

Natural gas as a vehicle fuel emits between 20-30% less CO2 than diesel.

It also reduces other emissions substantially:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) 75% less
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) 50% less
Particulate Matter (PM) 95% less
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 55% less

The County’s first round of vehicles should reduce CO2 emissions by 169 tons/ per year, and that is just the start and just the County owned vehicles. In time other fleets will convert and CO2 reductions will increase.

Fracking:

CNG derived from natural gas is a fossil fuel. Most natural gas is pumped from wells that have been developed utilizing fracking but nearly all oil producing wells also produce natural gas. For years the natural gas from oil wells has been allowed to leak into the environment or been flared off. Fracking is controversial and there is good scientific studies that support both its impact and safety. Gunnison County has natural gas wells which produce gas from fracked wells. Gunnison County retains regulatory authority to permit well drilling in the County as well as monitoring wells and regulating discharges to mitigate the impact of wells. It is rare in the U.S. that a community has an opportunity to use a fuel which is produced and regulated locally. It affords us the opportunity to be mindful of the impact our energy use makes and regulate that impact. Oil, whether it is produced in the U.S. or oversees, creates and impact from its extraction to refining into gasoline and diesel fuels. That impact is far away from Gunnison County, and easy to not think about. By utilizing a fuel that is produced locally we are accepting the impact of our fuel use, regulating it, and minimizing it because it affects this place which we all are connected to. Utilizing locally derived fuels to the greatest extent possible is socially responsible and will lead to environmental conservation.

Also we can develop renewable gas sources and move away from fossil fuel use, making natural gas from wells a bridge fuel. This is not fantasy or waiting for technological advances, it is being done now in Grand Junction. Follow these links for more information:

http://energy.gov/eere/articles/city-colorado-fueling-vehicles-gas-produced-wastewater-treatment-facility

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/01/461692939/from-poop-to-power-colorado-explores-new-sources-of-renewable-energy

Gas supply:

Concerns have been raised by scientists over how much natural gas is escaping wells, leaking from pipelines, and equipment and making its way into the environment because Methane (natural gas) is a very potent greenhouse gas. There is some controversy over how much is actually leaking in the entire supply chain system from the well to the point of use. The EPA estimates 2.4%. There are several environmental organizations that cite leaks to the natural gas system, from wells to point of use, as an offset to any environmental benefits of CNG as a vehicle fuel. Those studies and opinions, however, don’t paint a full picture: First of all they make an assumption that the drilling and pipeline infrastructure are only used for vehicle fueling. The infrastructure is in place now, and it is heavily relied on in our homes and businesses so it will be in place for the foreseeable future; all impact and leaks in the natural gas supply chain cannot be laid upon CNG vehicles. Also, they assume that all vehicles would be CNG from small passenger cars to heavy trucks and they compare the impacts to those of a small electric passenger car. What we advocate is using the right fuel for the right vehicle for the right job. If you are commuting a short distance to work each day an electric car (or bike) is probably the best choice. If you are hauling 60+ people 30 miles each way on a bus and doing laps on a route all day, then electric is not an option and there is nothing even close to being ready for that kind of use, in that case or in the case of your light truck full of tools or a trailer, the most effective fuel for your vehicle environmentally is CNG. It utilizes infrastructure and supply that exists and will exist with or without CNG vehicles. The EPA is tightening restrictions on methane leakage which should reduce leaked gas and reduce the environmental impact of our natural gas supply chain.

Show All Answers

1. What about electric vehicles?
2. Why not go electric?
3. What is the cost?
4. Can vehicles be converted to CNG?
5. What is the Environmental Impact?
6. Are CNG vehicles safe?
7. Isn’t CNG pretty new technology? Shouldn’t we wait till it gets figured out better?