"Renewable Natural Gas"
What is RNG?
“RNG” is a marketing term coined in North America to describe methane gas that is produced from biological waste (bio-waste). Outside North America this gas is known more accurately as “biomethane”.
RNG sounds great. It captures methane from organic emissions that would be released into the atmosphere. Sadly, it is no cleaner or more renewable than "natural" gas obtained from fracking processes.
And BC does not produce enough RNG to replace fracked gas.
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RNG is a clean alternative
False. The chemical composition of RNG and natural gas is very similar: both are comprised mainly of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane leakage from pipelines and infrastructure contributes directly to climate change, and when methane is burned, it releases carbon dioxide (CO2).
SwitchItUp-BC states, "Natural gas furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, fireplaces, and cooking appliances generate a staggering amount of British Columbia's climate pollution."
B.C. has many sources of RNG
False. The number of landfills, large farms, wastewater treatment facilities and waste wood sources in B.C. are limited.
To meet its mandated targets, FortisBC plans to purchase about 70% of its RNG from the US and Alberta by 2030. This will be expensive for ratepayers and will not reduce emissions as it will be strictly on paper. No molecules of this RNG will enter B.C. as the pipelines are all uni-directional, flowing west to east.
RNG is a limited resource that is best saved for industries and situations where decarbonization is more difficult.
Fortis can provide 100% RNG to new homes for free
False. There are no separate gas lines for RNG. Any RNG produced or purchased by Fortis enters the same gas line system as the rest of the natural gas burned in homes.
Fortis may wish to claim that new buildings will be supplied 100 % with renewable gas, but this is a deceit — under their plan, the gas that enters a new home will be no different from the gas that enters an older home next door.
And someone has to pay - production costs for RNG are $20-$30/GJoule whereas current natural gas costs are only $4/GJoule. Existing customers will foot the bill for the higher cost of RNG and will in effect be subsidizing the new homeowners.
RNG is safe to use in homes
False. Whether it be RNG or ‘natural’ gas, burning methane indoors is a known health risk. Nitrogen dioxide and other air contaminants released when cooking with gas increase a child’s risk of developing asthma by 24-42% and are known to aggravate COPD. Fugitive gases also leak from gas appliances (stoves, furnaces, fireplaces) even when they are off.
There is no need to use RNG in homes. Safe, clean alternatives to natural gas already exist. RNG is a limited resource that is best saved for industries and situations where decarbonization is more difficult.
RNG will help B.C. reach its climate targets
False: RNG is not a low carbon solution if it is transported long distances due to emissions associated with building pipeline infrastructure and methane leakage along the system.
RNG is only low carbon if the biogas would otherwise be released into the environment or if the product is used very close to the source. We also have to make sure only true waste wood is used for biogas production, not trees.
Building new pipelines and hooking new homes on gas will continue to contribute to our climate crisis.