Is natural gas a bridge or a roadblock to a clean energy future? That’s a vital question now that roughly half of Democratic presidential candidates support a ban on fracking, which is used to produce two-thirds of U.S. natural gas.
Even candidates who oppose a ban agree that the United States should aim for net-zero emissions overall by 2050 or sooner.
So far, the pursuit of net-zero has been far too slow, but natural gas has played a helpful role. American emissions of climate-warming gases have fallen roughly 15 percent from their peak. Replacing coal with natural gas for electricity contributed about a third of that reduction.
Whether natural gas helps or hurts the quest for further reductions will depend on two things: How we get it and how we use it.