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“Renewable Natural Gas” is about as Real as “Clean Coal”

Above: Metaphorical and evidently literal bullshit

Michael Hiltzik on the total bullshit that is “renewable natural gas” coming from the fossil fuel industry:

So here’s something you need to know about “renewable natural gas.” It’s a sham. Not only is it not really “renewable” in the same sense as wind, solar or hydroelectric power, which produce energy without consuming their sources, but it will have at best a minuscule impact on global warming.

That’s the conclusion of environmental scientists, who tend to think of “renewable natural gas” as PR branding by fossil fuel companies anxious to give their business models a green veneer while staving off regulations that would significantly cut back on gas consumption.

To promote the concept, these companies gloss over the fact that renewable natural gas, or RNG, is as much as five times as expensive as traditional fossil-produced gas, that its availability is limited compared to overall gas demand, and that its role in addressing global warming will be negligible at best.

“Parts of the gas industry are using wildly exaggerated claims about the feasibility, cost and impacts of these fossil gas alternatives,” says Mark Kresowik of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an ecological think tank. Their goal, he says, is to “delay and undermine the beneficial investments that cities and states want and need to make to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Indeed, one of the leaders in promoting “renewable natural gas” is Southern California Gas, the nation’s largest natural gas utility. As my colleague Sammy Roth has reported, for SoCal Gas, the state’s policy of weaning homes and offices from gas for heating and cooking by encouraging the conversion of buildings to all-electric sources poses an “existential threat.” (Although many electric plants run on natural gas, that’s cleaner than residential and commercial use in part because the plants are more efficient and have scrubbing technology to take greenhouse gases out of their emissions.)

In short, the last people you should trust on renewable energy are companies with a serious investment in dirty energy. Don’t fall for the latest corporate hype. It’s all wrong.

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