By Paula Gant, American Gas Association Decades of research by climate scientists confirm that we must change the way that we consume our natural resources in order to protect our planet for generations to come. This transformation does not take place in a vacuum. In fact, this change must happen against the backdrop of a global economy still struggling to recover. Our energy future must be built on innovation and a commitment to both environmental stewardship and economic viability. Natural gas is the foundation fuel for our clean energy future. Working alongside renewables and energy efficiency, our domestic abundance of natural gas provides an incredible opportunity to deliver the essential energy that will help drive economic growth while protecting the environment. A report by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) says the expanded use of natural gas offers significant opportunities to help address global climate change and help grow the economy. Entitled Leveraging Natural Gas to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the report also points to the efficient use of natural gas for space and water heating as offering opportunities for substantial near-term, low-cost carbon emissions reductions. As called for in the report, America’s natural gas utilities are working to expand the efficient use of natural gas for space and water heating – a near-term means of reducing GHG emissions while also helping consumers save money on their utility bills. Our natural gas delivery system is extraordinarily efficient with 92% of the natural gas produced at the wellhead being delivered to customers as usable energy. With high-efficiency appliances and equipment, the natural gas value chain offers a well-tested and cost-effective tool to reduce emissions. As AGA noted in our report Squeezing Every Btu, a household with natural gas for space heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying on average spends almost 30% less than a household with all-electric appliances, and leads to 37% lower greenhouse gas emissions. The C2ES report also echoes AGA’s commitment to better understand and more accurately measure the methane emissions from natural gas systems. While methane emissions from the natural gas delivery system have been reduced 16 percent since 1990 according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 Greenhouse Gas Inventory released in April, America’s natural gas utilities are committed to lowering them even further. AGA and several of its members are joining the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to sponsor a nationwide field study to better understand methane emissions associated with the distribution and delivery of natural gas. Advanced technologies using natural gas, such as microgrids, distributed generation and combined heat and power, are also recognized in the report as having considerable potential to reduce emissions in both the buildings and manufacturing sectors. By using less overall energy than separate heat and power generation, CHP systems can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution while providing customers an affordable, resilient energy solution. AGA’s recent study The Opportunity for CHP in the United States, indicates that more than 40 GW of potential CHP could achieve a 10-year payback or less. The 40 GW of potential represents about one-third of the total technical potential and corresponds to nearly 3 Tcf of annual natural gas demand. Our nation has the resources and the technology to use the clean energy provided by natural gas as the foundation for centuries of growth and a lasting legacy for our planet. Paula Gant is vice president of regulatory affairs for the American Gas Association. This blog post originally appeared on the American Gas Association’s True Blue Natural Gas blog at