Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and the increased use of natural gas can significantly improve local air quality and public heath as well as reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. When used for power generation, “natural gas emits as much as 50 percent less CO2 than coal, results in negligible emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury (Hg), and particulates compared with other fuels” according to the International Gas Union. LNG shipments allow the environmental benefits of natural gas to be spread around the world and can help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions according to a report by PACE Global LNG and Coal Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In addition a study done the National Energy Technology Laboratory entitled Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States found that the use of U.S. LNG exports for power production in European and Asian markets will not increase GHG emissions, on a life cycle perspective, when compared to regional coal extraction and consumption for power production.
In addition to providing direct environmental benefits as a fuel, natural gas and LNG can help promote the use of renewable fuels. The ability to burn natural gas for power generation is an ideal complement to renewable energy generation, like wind and solar power, which can be intermittent and inconsistent. Natural gas power plants can be quickly turned on and off to help provide consistent electricity production when solar or wind resources fluctuate. According to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory found: “Power generation based on natural gas offers the flexibility and increased dispatchability that complements renewable energy power generation.”