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What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is nontoxic and is lighter than air. Therefore, it will rise and dissipate harmlessly if not confined to a closed space. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel that releases energy when burned. When combined with the proper amount of air, the by-products of combustion are simply carbon dioxide and water vapor, the same products exhaled by humans when we breathe.

Natural gas is a combustible, gaseous mixture of simple hydrocarbon compounds, usually found in deep underground reservoirs formed by porous rock. The prevailing scientific theory is that natural gas was formed millions of years ago when plants and tiny sea animals were buried by sand and rock. Layers of mud, sand, rock and plant and animal matter continued to build up until the pressure and heat from the earth turned them into petroleum and natural gas.

In the U.S., natural gas has been found in 23 states with the largest deposits in Texas, Louisiana and Alaska. Large deposits are also found along the eastern coast of Mexico and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Significant underwater deposits exist beneath the Gulf of Mexico near Texas and Louisiana. Most of the natural gas found today is discovered at depths anywhere from several thousand feet to five miles below the earth's surface.

Natural gas is used extensively in residential, commercial and industrial applications. It is the dominant energy used for home heating. The use of natural gas is also rapidly increasing as a fuel for electric power generation.