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Liquified Energy or Liquified Disaster?

Author: Ellie Wang

Editors: Sophie Chen, Rachel Chen

Artist: Tracy Xu

Natural gas has unique challenges as a fossil fuel. As a gas, it is difficult to store and transport, so producers have resorted to liquifying it at temperatures as low as -259 degrees F, or -162 degrees C. In this state, it is more energy-dense than raw or compressed natural gas. Shippers load liquified natural gas (LNG) at its condensation point to maintain its cold, liquid form. Any LNG converted back into gaseous form will be used up by absorbing heat from the surrounding air to power the ship, leaving most of the LNG liquified. Although supporters of LNG argue that it produces less air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions than other fossil fuels, it has a slew of its own problems that outweigh any benefits of its use.

The primary concern with LNG is the environmental pollution it causes. LNG consists mainly of methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term and 30 times more in the long term. Leakage occurs within the fracking process used to extract LNG, as well as the production and supply chain. The aforementioned LNG-powered ships are a direct channel through which methane is released into the atmosphere. As a result, LNG is a major contributor to climate change, and to comply with the Global Methane Pledge’s goal of reducing methane emissions by 30 % by 2030 compared to the amount in 2020, corporations have to stop using LNG as a marine fuel. A hopeful solution to the shipping industry’s reliance on LNG is utilizing renewable shipping fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia. If green fuel production is scaled up, its prices can drop and make renewable fuel a viable alternative, contributing greatly to accomplishing net-zero emissions by 2050.

The consequences of environmental pollution may seem distant, but other issues caused by LNG also have immediate repercussions. Fracking contaminates surrounding water sources, abandoned wells release methane into the air, and LNG plants emit carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds during production. Plants are also at risk of explosion. All of these points of contamination harm the health of nearby residents. Residents experience symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to more severe conditions, such as respiratory illnesses, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and damage to reproductive organs. However, despite these effects, it is difficult to stop LNG producers. Producers like Cheniere, a major U.S. LNG exporter, have attempted to dodge EPA regulations on releasing toxins during processing, like carcinogenic formaldehyde. This problem disproportionately impacts those at higher risk for respiratory cancer, as well as minorities and low-income populations. Combined with the comorbidity of many of those socioeconomic populations, LNG production is simply a price too high for those who will most greatly feel its consequences.

LNG use is the reality that the U.S. and other countries leading its production are pushing for, but it doesn’t have to be that way. For a better future, we must invest in renewable resources, educate people on environmental conservation, and advocate for more sustainable lifestyles.



Liquefied Natural Gas 101. 9 Feb. 2024,

“Climate and Public Health Impacts of LNG Exports.” Sierra Club, 16 Aug. 2022,

Environmental Health Project. “Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): Health and Climate

Impacts.” EHP, 10 Aug. 2023,

“Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) - Transport and Environment.” Transport & Environment,

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