Natural Gas for Homes on the Rise

Environmentalists throughout the country and around the world are protesting the new popularity of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking”. It is a process that forces an array of chemicals underground the break up geologic formations that contain fossil fuel deposits, ranging from natural gas to the “timeless” black oil.

Even though this practice began in 1947, its entire effect on the earth is unknown. We do know in the meantime it is quite hazardous and tearing up the earth. We are seeing more seismic activity and contamination of groundwater, as well as chemicals seeping to the surface.

While environmentalists protest the dangerous extraction practice, fracking has lent a hand to other green friendly campaigns, namely the mass exodus of power producers from coat to natural gas. Natural gas has a lot of reasons it’s just becoming more popular, one of the biggest ones is fracking.

Coal burning power plants were the main source of energy before the economic collapse in 2008. At this point in time natural gas was an extremely volatile commodity. It traded for multiple times what a comparable amount of coal would trade for.

Coal was going through a perfect storm at the time and the economic meltdown depressed all fuel prices and energy producers began looking at more economical ways to produce energy, thus we have fracking. This allowed oil and natural gas to be withdrawn from deposits. Natural gas has become a dominant source of energy as a result from an intricate web of political and environmental considerations.  

No one can ignore the debate on climate change, and it has become evident that natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal. Since we have begun heavily using natural gas, carbon emissions have decreased 3.8% from 2011 to 2012. This has led legislation to pass laws encouraging utility companies to replace their dirty coal with natural gas plants. Obama and the EPA are waging war on coal. Currently they are winning the war with coal companies that claim to be “nearly destroyed”.

The big picture is still a bit blurry due to environmental, economic, and political interest, the benefits for the consumer solely depend on what the utility companies end up charging them. Kentucky has seen its electricity prices increase from $5.84per kilowatt/hour in 2007, to $7.17 per kilowatt/hour in 2011. In 2014 we have seen a major increase in consumption in natural gas prices due to higher demand, which is a droll sign for those hoping the fuel will solve the nation’s environmental and economic woes.

Natural gas is leading the way as the dominant energy source in the United States. Incentives to switch from dirty energy to clean keep coming from the government, so it will be interesting to see what path is ahead of us. We will most likely see natural gas for homes continue to grow.

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