The Propane Gas Association of New England’s initial claim that propane is not a fossil fuel is, as the news media says these days, “an inaccurate or misleading statement.” I prefer to call it a lie.
Claim No. 2, that propane is a renewable resource, is similar hokum. To be clear, there are renewable gases — gas captured in farm methane digesters or from capped landfills, for example — but propane is not one of them. Propane could possibly be considered renewable on a 65 million-year timeline, which is how long it took the current supply to form from deeply buried organic life (fossils), but I’m pretty sure PGANE operates more on the timeline of quarterly returns.
The third claim, that propane is recycled, is an egregious abuse of the word. Propane is described as a byproduct of natural gas refining. It’s a product that would otherwise be wasted, so its use as a fuel source makes economic sense, and possibly even makes environmental sense, but that does not, in any sense, make it recycled.
Clearly, any discussion of our collective energy future needs to include clear-eyed consideration of all fuels — the good, the bad and the downright dangerous — but we all need to be clear what exactly we are talking about. Slinging this level of blatant green-washing does a disservice to serious debate and to the intelligence of the people.
The writer is the state representative for his town.