Natural gas, a less polluting fuel than oil or coal, contributed 20 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, according to the EIA. Environmental hazards related to natural gas in the United States have included LNG spills and pipeline explosions as well as explosions caused by leaks of natural gas used for heating and cooking. Two environmental risks that have been associated with the recovery of natural gas include subsidence, a settling of the ground that may occur when the extraction of natural gas from an oil field leads to decreased pressure in the oil reservoir, and the emission of a toxic, acid gas containing hydrogen sulfide. In the past, before natural gas was viewed as a viable energy source, it was flared, or lit on fire, when it was extracted along with petroleum, generating undesirable carbon dioxide emissions. Natural gas is mainly used for heating, but greater quantities of it are also being used to generate electricity in the United States, mainly because the environmental pressures against coal are so great.
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