EPA Says Emissions From Natural Gas Utilities Continue to Decline

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today applauded the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that estimates of emissions from our nation’s natural gas delivery system continue their declining trend. The 19th Annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks affirms that “the major contributors to the decrease in emissions from 2011-2012 were the decrease in energy consumption across all sectors in the U.S. economy, and the decrease in carbon intensity for electricity generation due to fuel switching from coal to natural gas.”

“Natural gas utilities continually upgrade their systems to help enhance pipeline safety, which has led to a decline in emissions year after year,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association. “Each set of new data that comes out confirms this declining trend. We remain vigilant and deeply committed to working with state regulators and key stakeholders to continue this trend through smart, cost effective investments in system modernization.”


AGA_2850 GHG Emissions Infographic VER 10



Since 1990, natural gas utilities have installed modern plastic pipes used for delivering gas at low pressure at a rate of 30,000 miles per year, and cathodically protected steel mains used for high pressure delivery at a rate of 1,500 miles per year, both connecting new customers and upgrading existing pipeline infrastructure. All natural gas utilities have integrity management programs that include upgrading pipelines that may no longer be fit for service. In addition, 38 states have already adopted specific accelerated infrastructure replacement mechanisms to allow natural gas distribution utilities to recover the costs of replacing systems on a timely basis. AGA supports the expansion of these programs to include all utilities operating in these states, as well as the adoption of similar programs by additional states.

In February, the American Gas Association Board of Directors led by Chairman Gregg Kantor, approved principles for continuing the declining trend in natural gas emissions, a key step towards their goal of identifying pipeline safety best practices and a set of voluntary guidelines in this area.

Improving Infrastructure Permitting Will Help Minimize Environmental Impacts

Washington, D.C. –American Gas Association (AGA) President and CEO Dave McCurdy welcomed the announcement of a plan by the Obama Administration to improve permitting processes for infrastructure projects as part of the Department of the Interior’s Landscape-Scale Mitigation Strategy, saying:

“Natural gas utilities are members of the communities they serve and are careful to consider impacts to the local community as they expand and upgrade the natural gas pipeline network to safely and reliably deliver clean and affordable energy to more homes and businesses. For every new construction, routine maintenance, repair, replacement, and integrity and safety testing project, big or small, utilities carefully consider potential impacts on natural resources – species, habitats, cultural and historical properties – and ensure that necessary regulatory reviews and mitigation are performed to altogether avoid or minimize such impacts.

“We applaud the Administration’s effort to improve permitting processes for infrastructure projects, by cutting timelines, reducing red tape, and promoting transparency through a modernized process. These reforms will give natural gas utilities more regulatory certainty as they plan infrastructure upgrades, reduce agency costs associated with project reviews and increase landscape-level habitat mitigation techniques that measurably improve environmental protection. These reforms will also help natural gas utilities receive timely permits for projects that must be completed in a specific season to minimize environmental impacts, and projects that are time-sensitive for reliability and safety reasons. We look forward to working with the relevant agencies to implement these changes.

“The increased and strategic use of American natural gas across all sectors will help achieve our national goals of reducing our costs for energy, protecting our environmental and securing our energy future. But reaching these goals requires understanding and a visionary response on the part of government, natural gas utilities and their customers. Improving the permitting processes for infrastructure projects is a great step towards making it possible for all Americans to experience the energy efficiency, environmental and affordability benefits of natural gas.”

NW Natural Reminds Customers to Dial 811 Before Digging

PORTLAND, Ore. – Just as the weather is getting nice enough for yard projects, NW Natural reminds you to do one thing before you start working outside: call 811 before you dig. April is National Safe Digging Month, and a good time to remember that you or your contractor must call 811 to have underground utility lines located two business days before digging.

The most common cause of damages to a natural gas line is someone accidentally digging into it. Whether it’s been hit by a garden shovel, backhoe, trencher, post-hole digger or other tool, a damaged line can be a serious safety hazard and lead to unwanted fines.

“We know that it only takes one accident to create major damage, service disruptions and possible injuries,” said Scott Gallegos, NW Natural damage prevention supervisor. “That’s why it’s important for everyone to remember to make that one quick phone call to 811 before any digging occurs.”

NW Natural tracks the number of damages to its gas lines each year. The company recorded slightly more damages in 2013 than in 2012.

The company also tracks requests to locate its pipelines and responded to 13 percent more calls last year over the previous year.

“Responding to more calls for locates is a step in the right direction,” added Gallegos. “But we still have a long way to go to see the number of damages go from 500+ per year down to zero.”

If a gas line has been accidentally damaged, remember these simple tips: Smell. Go. Let us know. If you smell an odor like rotten eggs from a natural gas line and/or hear a hissing sound, immediately leave the area on foot and follow these tips:

* Do not use your telephone, cell phone or any electronic or battery-powered device.

* Do not light matches.

* Do not operate any electrical switch including lights.

* Do not create any other source of ignition or spark that could ignite the gas.

* Evacuate the area on foot.

* Call NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-800-882-3377 once you’re away.

NW Natural encourages you to visit https://www.nwnatural.com/Residential/Safety for information about digging safely.