Natural gas ‘large part’ of solution to climate goals, industry leader says

Natural gas ‘large part’ of solution to climate goals, says industry leader

Wyoming producer says there are misconceptions about natural gas

A leading supplier of natural gas in Wyoming told Fox News there are misconceptions about the fossil fuel that powers everything from cell phones to electric cars.

"The single largest misconception about natural gas is that we can't do it clean," Jonah Energy Vice President Paul Ulrich told Fox News. 

"We can," he continued. "We've proven it here in the Jonah Field. Other operators have proven it, and we absolutely are a large part of the solution to climate goals."

Ulrich said about 40% of electric generation in the U.S. is powered by natural gas.

Natural gas well on Jonah Field in Wyoming.

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Jonah Field was one of the largest onshore natural gas discoveries in the early 1990s, according to the company’s website. Jonah Energy, in Sublette County, Wyoming, operates over 2,400 producing wells in the area.

The Environmental Information Administration calls natural gas a "relatively" clean burning fossil fuel. 

"Well drilling activities produce air pollution and may disturb people, wildlife, and water resources," the EIA's website states. "Laying pipelines that transport natural gas from wells usually requires clearing land to bury the pipe. Natural gas production can also produce large volumes of contaminated water."

Paul Ulrich, VP of Jonah Energy.

Ulrich told Fox News his company diligently protects the land it leases from the federal government, but their biggest environmental concern is reducing emissions.

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"This is also our backyard," Ulrich said. "This is where we fish. This is where we hunt. This is where we raise our children."

Part of Jonah Energy's effort to minimize its environmental impact is its Responsibly Produced Gas initiative. The company uses a high-tech thermal camera to detect and help repair methane leaks, which is used to inspect each well location once a month.

Worker testing thermal camera on Jonah Field in WY.

The company reported that it's reduced its methane emissions per unit of natural gas produced by 68% over the past three years, "resulting in one of the lowest emission intensities of any operator in the United States."

Despite efforts made to lower emissions, environmental groups like Sierra Club have called for a phasing out of natural gas. 

Engineer monitors equipment on drill platform in Wyoming.

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"Two-thirds of the methane gas used in the US is extracted through fracking, a process that pollutes air and water, contributes to climate change and induces earthquakes," according to a Sierra Club article titled "'Natural' Gas is Not Clean Energy – It’s Climate Endangering Methane Gas."

"To avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we need to transition away from burning fossil fuels and move to 100% clean, renewable energy," the article reads.

Ulrich told Fox News: "We care very deeply about [the environment]. I'll go so far to say, everybody here in Wyoming is passionate about conservation, passionate about preservation of wildlife and our air quality and our water, and we work every day to make sure we're doing the best job we can."

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