Replacing diesel with natural gas in truck fleets does not benefit the environment because of the climate-damaging effects of methane, which is the primary ingredient in natural gas, according to a recent study reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The study by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is important to heating oil customers, because heating oil is very similar to diesel, and converting from heating oil to natural gas also leads to an increase in methane emissions.

EDF found that shifting to natural gas from diesel in the nation's trucking sector "leads to damages to the climate" for anywhere from 50 to 90 years, depending on the type of natural-gas engine, the Journal reported. "Over time, methane - which is released from wells, fuel tanks, and other points in the natural gas production process - has much stronger warming effects than CO2, researchers said," the article states.

"Natural gas trucks have the potential to reduce overall climate impacts compared to diesel," study co-author Jonathan Camuzeaux told the Journal, "but only if we clean up the highly potent greenhouse gas emissions from the systems that produce and deliver the fuel."

Jason Mathers of EDF added that policy makers shouldn't promote switching to natural gas "until we are more certain about the magnitude of methane loss and have acted sufficiently to reduce emissions and improve natural gas engine efficiency," according to the Journal.

To read the Wall Street Journal article, click here.