Clean Air

Natural Gas and Clean Air for Quebec – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My main priority is combating climate change. Why should I support natural gas development in Quebec?

A: We are unwavering in our concern for protecting air quality and combating climate change.  Natural gas is called on to play a crucial role in helping Quebec, Canada, and North America improve their environmental track record and attain the goals they have set.  The Kyoto Accord includes a strong role for natural gas—recognized for having the lowest carbon dioxide content of all fossil fuels —in reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Natural gas can play a critical role in helping Quebec achieve its environmental goals. In the transportation sector, for example, Transport Robert has become a pioneer, ordering 180 Peterbilt trucks that run on less-polluting liquid natural gas (LNG).

Q: Does natural gas contribute to increased pollution?

A: Natural Resources Canada calls natural gas “clean-burning, abundant, safe, reliable and efficient.” Emissions produced by the combustion of natural gas, including greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, are significantly lower than those produced by burning oil or coal. Natural gas produces significantly fewer nitrogen oxides (NOx) and barely any sulfur dioxides (SO2), the main contributors to acid rain.  Natural gas produces very little particulate matter (PM), which in large quantities can contribute to heart and lung diseases. Natural gas also emits no mercury pollution.

Q: To address climate change, shouldn’t we be supporting renewables?

A: Renewables such as wind and solar occupy a growing and very important part of Quebec’s energy mix. But natural gas can provide what is known as base load power, which is the ability to generate power around the clock, regardless of weather conditions. Natural gas is also more cost-effective: wind is about five times more expensive than natural gas, while solar is as much as 14 times more expensive. This is why natural gas can play such an important role in Quebec’s energy future: using natural gas means reducing emissions while keeping energy prices affordable for Quebecers, which in turn helps grow the economy.

Q:  I hear about natural gas leaks.  What does this mean?  Is gas continually leaking from the pipeline?

A: Surface casing vent flow, or SCVF, is often misunderstood as a gas leak. Referring to this as a “leak” would be similar to referring to exhaust from an automobile as a “leak.” Fumes are present at the surface of a drill site when a gas or liquid travels up the pipe as the hole is being drilled. This is a tightly controlled process, which occurs to ensure safety at the well. Without properly venting these fumes, the gas would instead build up in the pipe and cause it to burst. The process is regulated and only small amounts of gas are vented.