Environmental Groups Calls for More Coal, Less Natural Gas

April 26, 2017

Background: PennEast Pipeline Company Spokesperson Pat Kornick released the following statement today following the flagrantly false claims made by Oil Change International and the Bold Alliance.

“PennEast Pipeline Company’s highest priority is safety, and that includes safeguarding the environment. The April 26 release of yet another highly questionable, cookie-cutter report by so-called environmental groups suggesting coal-fired produced electricity is cleaner than natural gas is outrageous, as well as inconsistent with scientific data that clearly shows the numerous environmental benefits of natural gas.

“The author ignores true science and economics, because neither would support the overriding agenda of the groups funding the report in an effort to stop natural gas development. The fact is natural gas-fueled electric generation produces roughly half as much carbon dioxide as coal, nearly six times less nitrogen oxide, very little sulfur dioxide and virtually no particulate matter or mercury emissions. In terms of economics, with potential annual energy savings for the region pegged at nearly $900 million, alongside empirical regional energy price spikes, the PennEast Pipeline greatly is needed.

“America is now the world leader in natural gas production. Since 1990, the country has increased its annual natural gas production by more than 50 percent, while reducing methane emissions by 16 percent. In Pennsylvania, the shale revolution is even more impressive with methane emissions decreasing — even though natural gas production soared nearly 1000 percent between 2009 and 2013. This indicates the new wells and new pipelines are not adding to methane emissions. The record-setting production also has enabled the increased use of clean natural gas, which has positioned the U.S. as the world leader in reducing carbon emissions. In fact, carbon emissions from the power generation sector now have fallen below that of the transportation sector.

The region’s electric grid (PJM) increasingly is relying on natural gas as coal-fired plants retire. While renewables are important, they comprise only six percent of PJM’s installed capacity. Our communities and economy require reliable, clean electric generation, and there’s no better fuel than natural gas to power our homes and businesses, as well as back-up wind and solar sources when the wind isn’t blowing and sun isn’t shining brightly.

“Natural gas electric generation offers a host of environmental benefits – including its physical footprint. For example, the new natural gas-fueled power plant being constructed on the site of the former Sunbury, PA, coal-fired plant will produce 1,124 MW of electricity compared to a little over 400 MW by the former coal plant, on a third of the footprint. If PennEast’s one billion cubic feet of natural gas were used solely for natural gas electric generation, one would need the equivalent of a 285-square mile solar array or more than 6,000 industrial wind turbines to generate the same energy. Natural gas not only provides air quality benefits, as cited by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, but also preserves green space.

“After years of scientific review, two government regulators have found that the PennEast Pipeline is safe for the environment. The PennEast Pipeline Project will continue the positive trends of increased natural gas use – backed by government data – that demonstrate American natural gas equals lower energy bills and reduced carbon emissions.

“PennEast Pipeline Company looks forward to a favorable ruling by FERC this summer, authorizing the delivery of lower energy costs, thousands of jobs, a cleaner environment and an improved quality of life and economy for decades to come.”