By Stephanie Joyce - Wyoming Public Media & Inside Energy
In the first quarter of 2014, the United States surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. It already hit that mark for natural gas in late 2013. All of that oil and gas has to be transported from the fields where it’s drilled to refineries and processing plants.
Most of that is done by pipeline, but the nation’s pipeline infrastructure isn’t currently up to the task.
From the standpoint of global warming, burning natural gas can be better than burning coal, a study published this week suggests.
This is a contentious issue among people who are opposed to the natural gas drilling practice known as fracking. That technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to release far more gas than conventional drilling can. Opponents of fracking have been concerned not only about local environmental issues, but also about the potential for methane leaks to make global warming worse.