Gas

Builders in certain parts of the country are probably surprised whenever they hear that the United States is producing record amounts of natural gas. If we’re producing so much, why isn’t it available for so many new construction projects? In the Wall Street Journal, reporters Stephanie Yang and Ryan Dezember explore why it’s so difficult to get access to natural gas in some areas. In short: Pipelines aren’t in the right places, they’re too old, and they’re too small.

“Earlier this year, two utilities that service the New York City area stopped accepting new natural-gas customers in two boroughs and several suburbs,” they write. “Citing jammed supply lines running into the city on the coldest winter days, they said they couldn’t guarantee they’d be able to deliver gas to additional furnaces. Never mind that the country’s most prolific gas field, the Marcellus Shale, is only a three-hour drive away.”

The reporters describe projects such as a 66-unit apartment building in New York being scrapped due to lack of access to natural gas. But the article doesn’t mention that for many projects, propane provides a feasible alternative that fuels the same high-efficiency heating systems and appliances as natural gas. In fact, although the article groups propane and oil together as “dirtier fuels,” propane-fueled furnaces produce up to 12 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared with oil furnaces and 79 percent fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in residential applications. As one solution to the natural gas infrastructure problem, propane may be more attractive and accessible than the media realizes.

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