In an effort to present an ethical and forward-thinking corporate image, many organizations have looked towards their supply chain as an area where "Green" improvements can be made, and touted in the marketplace. While many of these initiatives are driven purely from a marketing standpoint, where the goal is simply to do something environmental, the introduction of trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) has become the focus of an environmental move that could significantly impact US energy consumption, and the economy as a whole.
The endeavor to replace gasoline/diesel components of transportation networks took a great leap forward as Shell has announced plans to develop and operate a network of no less than 200 service stations in a partnership with Travel Centers. This is very important to the viability of this venture, and developing the infrastructure required to support "green" trucks.
But is natural gas all it’s cracked up to be?
It’s “Clean”… or is it?
New research by the Environmental Protection Agency--and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full "life cycle" of gas production--is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change. While the gas certainly is the cleanest fossil fuel to utilize, the pollutants emitted during the extraction process are often not taken into account when studies of the environmental effects are conducted.
It’s hard to argue with that. Reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil is one of the leading arguments of natural gas advocates. There is an abundance of natural gas in North America, but it is a non-renewable resource, the formation of which takes thousands and possibly millions of years. Therefore, understanding the availability of the country’s supply of natural gas is important as we increase our use of this fossil fuel.
Regardless of the environmental impacts, the use of LNG is bound to increase, as a low cost alternative fuel. The real question that remains is how this resource will be controlled, and how long it will take providers such as Shell to hop on board, and begin developing the infrastructure necessary to truly make this a real substitute for oil.