Honda Civic Natural Gas Wins 2012 Green Car of the Year

The Honda Civic Natural Gas won the 2012 Green Car of the Year, Green Car Journal announced during a press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Honda Civic Natural Gas is the only assembly-line produced natural gas vehicle manufactured for sale in the U.S. It gets 38 MPG, and comes with a $26,155 price tag. It is the “cleanest running internal combustion vehicle certified by the EPA,” according to a press release.

“There is no other vehicle like the Civic Natural Gas on American highways, and this recognition has been a long time coming for Honda,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. Cogan adds that the Civic Natural Gas “features greater fuel efficiency, a handsome and roomier new design, and tailpipe emissions levels untouchable by any other internal combustion production vehicle.”

“The Civic Natural Gas is not only a great vehicle, it also demonstrates Honda’s commitment to provide a variety of alternatives to gasoline,” said Michael Accavitti, vice president of marketing at American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

How green is natural gas?

“It runs on a clean fuel that is almost exclusively domestically sourced,” the press release states. “Natural gas is a clean-burning, versatile fuel found in abundance in the United States.” But how clean and green is natural gas?

In some parts of the U.S. natural gas is extracted from shale, and the extraction method used is hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Fracking causes environmental problems, as DeSmogBlog.com’s report shows. One of those problems is contamination of drinking water from the chemical additives used in fracking.

“Nearby waterways, domestic wells and underground sources of drinking water (USDW) such as under­ground aquifers have become contaminated across America due to poor industry practices and incom­plete knowledge of underlying rock formations,” the report states.

Greenhouse gas emissions are another problem caused by fracking. Natural gas is “composed largely from methane,” according to a Cornell University report released last spring. The report states that 3.6 percent to 7.9 percent of methane from shale gas production escapes to the air, and methane emissions from shale are at least 30 percent more than from conventional gas.

“Even small leakages of natural gas to the atmosphere have very large consequences,” Robert Howarth, an environmental biology professor at Cornell University, who worked on the methane report, said. “When the total emissions of greenhouse gases are considered … natural gas and coal from mountaintop removal probably have similar releases, and in fact natural gas may be worse in terms of consequences on global warming.”

In addition to all of these problems, recent reports have shown earthquakes caused by fracking.

If a car that runs on natural gas is the greenest car, then the U.S. is clearly not on the right path when it comes to getting off our fossil fuel addiction. As the DeSmogBlog report states, “If the U.S. truly endeavors to transition to a clean energy future, its dependence on all fossil fuels must be phased out as rapidly as possible.”

Photo: Honda.com

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.