I think your NYT columnist didn’t do well in the chemistry class he should have taken while studying journalism since burning natural is CH4[g] + 2 O2[g] → CO2[g] + 2 H2O[l] + 891 kJ. Or, burning natural gas in air yields carbon dioxide and water. My source for that formula (a gas company) managed to omit that there are sometimes trace amounts of sulfur in the natural gas that results in miniscule amounts of sulfur dioxide. There are also trace amounts of mercury and nitrogen oxides emitted. Nonetheless, natural gas produces about 45% less CO2 per Btu than coal.If I have completely geeked you out and caused your eyes to glaze over, my apologies.