The American Gas Association (AGA) recently praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for noting natural gas utilities’ self-driven efforts to reduce emissions in the agency’s new emissions standards for the oil and natural gas industry.
The final rule -- which regulates new, reconstructed and modified sources -- does not include distribution infrastructure or local distribution companies’ assests. The AGA attributes this to emissions reductions from natural gas utilities that have been operating since the 1990s. The association cited the agency’s “2016 EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks,” which shows a 74 percent decrease in emissions from local distribution systems since 1990. The AGA said utilities account for just 6 percent of the natural gas value chain’s total methane emissions.
Utilities have accomplished these reductions by replacing pipelines to incorporate modern plastic materials, an infrastructure update currently supported by risk-based integrity-management programs in 39 states and Washington, D.C.
The AGA and its member companies, which today cover approximately 66 percent of the country’s natural gas customers, supported the EPA’s original Natural Gas STAR program in 1993 and recently renewed support by joining the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program in March. Through the Natural Gas STAR program, AGA members have reduced emissions by 46.2 billion cubic feet since 1993.