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Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems

Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems

Full Title: Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems
Author(s): Richard K. Lattanzio
Publisher(s): Congressional Research Service
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has often focused on ways through which the United States could secure more economical, reliable, and cleaner fossil fuel resources both domestically and internationally. Recent expansion in natural gas production, primarily as a result of new or improved technologies (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling) used on unconventional resources (e.g., shale, tight sands, and coalbed methane) has made natural gas an increasingly significant component in the U.S. energy supply. This expansion, however, has prompted questions about the potential impacts of natural gas systems on human health and the environment, including impacts on air quality.

The natural gas supply chain contributes to air pollution in several ways, including (1) the leaking, venting, and combustion of natural gas in the course of production operations; and (2) the combustion of other fossil fuel resources or other emissions during associated operations. Emission sources include pad, road, and pipeline construction; well drilling, completion, and flowback activities; and gas processing and transmission equipment such as controllers, compressors, dehydrators, pipes, and storage vessels. Pollutants include, most prominently, methane (i.e., the principal component of natural gas) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)— of which the natural gas industry is one of the highest-emitting industrial sectors in the United States—as well as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and various forms of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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