Dominion Energy, which supplies natural gas to Utah consumers, has announced a “net-zero” goal to offset greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Unfortunately, the details are a bit sketchy.
The net-zero goal depends on an offset program using “renewable natural gas” or “biogas” which is methane captured from food waste, landfills, animal manure and sewage treatment. The American Gas Association says burning captured methane releases greenhouse gasses that are about 21 times less potent than releasing methane directly into the atmosphere. It also avoids releasing sequestered carbon as happens with gas from fracking wells. Based on this, Dominion asserts that substituting 1% biogas for fracked methane would reduce carbon dioxide by 25%.
That’s not quite accurate. Renewable natural gas comes from factory farms and trash heaps which are sources of air and water pollution, and it still releases carbon dioxide when it’s burned.
Renewable natural gas is hard to scale, but current technology can supply about 4% of the natural gas supply, coincidentally exactly the amount that Dominion claims will result in net-zero emissions.
Dominion Energy also plans to extend licenses for its “zero-carbon nuclear generation fleet” which is worrisome for Utah since the uranium industry was a major lobbyist pressuring President Trump to downsize Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument.
This is an excerpt from our March EnviroNews column. View the full article here.