Oct 10, 2019 - Energy & Environment

The coal industry hits natural gas on climate change concerns

Illustration of a tiny natural gas rig on top of a warming planet

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's beleaguered coal industry is attacking natural gas for its role in fueling climate change.

Between the lines: It’s ironic because coal is considered far more damaging to the climate than gas.

  • Coal's new attack — via a blog post by a prominent trade group — shows the desperate measures the industry is taking as it loses market share to gas and faces increasing criticism over its climate effects.

The big picture: Gas emits far less CO2 when burned than coal, but its primary component — methane — is also a potent greenhouse gas that can escape during production and transport.

Driving the news: The National Mining Association's blog post argues that as gas has become the country's largest power source, higher CO2 emissions from gas-fired generation make it "a leading contributor to the challenge.”

What they’re saying: “That’s apparently news to the oil and natural gas industry,” the post argues.

  • It adds: “One ad after another positions natural gas as the key emissions solution. Why debate the environmental merits of fracking when you can step on the head of the coal industry to prove your value in a carbon-constrained world?”

Reality check: On a per-unit basis, coal creates more carbon dioxide, which is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas, compared to oil and gas.

Go deeper: With natural gas on the rise, U.S. market is moving against coal

Go deeper