Category Archives: environment

Pam Lacey Natural Gas Emissions Deserve Closer Study

The study by Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of methane emissions in the Boston area looked at only that area and confirms much of what we already know, that methane is being emitted from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, without identifying the specific source of the emission it is difficult to draw any conclusions from it.

Safety is a core value for natural gas utilities. AGA member companies in the Boston area and throughout the country are part of a concerted effort to upgrade and modernize our nation’s pipeline network to enhance safety that has contributed to a declining trend in emissions from natural gas distribution systems.

We believe that this issue deserves closer study to better understand emissions associated with the distribution and delivery of natural gas. AGA and thirteen of its member companies have been participating with the Environmental Defense Fund in a nationwide field study conducted by the Washington State University to measure emissions from natural gas distribution systems. The results should be more instructive because this study used direct source measurements and was able to isolate emissions specifically from distribution pipes and equipment.

More than 177 million Americans continue to use natural gas to cook a hot meal, heat their water or warm their houses. Our nation’s abundance of this clean energy resource has driven affordable and stable prices throughout the country.

The Obama Administration recently announced regulations on emissions from the natural gas industry which did not include recommendations for local distribution companies. Natural gas utilities are committed to systematically upgrading infrastructure, driven by risk-based integrity management programs, and there is a growing effort to accelerate the replacement of pipelines no longer fit for service. Proactive efforts from natural gas utilities, along with involvement in important programs like the EPA’s Natural Gas STAR program, have contributed to the fact that natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems have dropped 22 percent since 1990, even as the industry added nearly 600,000 miles of distribution mains and service lines to serve 17.5 million more customers, an increase of 32 percent. Nearly 90 percent of the emissions declines from distribution systems since 1990 are due to pipeline replacements. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 0.24 percent of produced natural gas is emitted from systems operated by local natural gas utilities.

In 2014, AGA released a set of voluntary guidelines to serve as a resource for AGA members to assist in evaluating potential options that may lead to further emissions reductions for distribution systems, and AGA is working with EPA to develop a new voluntary Gold STAR certification for the natural gas distribution sector. The natural gas industry is actively engaged in this discussion along with rigorous, science-based analysis to ensure natural gas continues to be a leading solution for our nation’s clean and secure energy future. AGA members are committed to continuing this positive trend of declining emissions, and we look forward to continued collaboration with key stakeholders in this effort.

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Christina Nyquist AGA’s Incoming Chairman, Terry McCallister, WGL, Inc., to Hold Media Roundtable Breakfast

How can we provide safe, reliable energy at affordable costs for all Americans?

How can we balance our need for energy with the needs of the environment?

How can we gain secure our nation’s domestic abundance of natural gas for the future?

The American Gas Association (AGA) will address those questions and more at a media roundtable next Thursday December 11 beginning at 10 a.m. with incoming AGA Chairman Terry McCallister, chairman and CEO of WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas Light Company in Washington, D.C., and AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy.

Terry McCallister 300x176 AGA’s Incoming Chairman, Terry McCallister, WGL, Inc., to Hold Media Roundtable Breakfast

Incoming AGA Chairman Terry McCallister, Chairman and CEO, WGL Holdings, Inc.

McCurdy and McCallister will discuss the vision for natural gas in 2015, and how we can secure natural gas as America’s new energy foundation, providing economic, environmental and energy security solutions for the nation. They will also address AGA’s legislative and regulatory priorities for 2015. Presentations will be followed by an open question and answer session.

AGA will be livetweeting from the roundtable on our Twitter account @aga_naturalgas. Follow the conversation or join us using hashtag #AGAChairman.

All media inquiries and RSVPs should be sent directly to Christina Nyquist at cnyquist@aga.org.

 

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Lisa O'Leary Certified Green

AmGasMagCoverWebOct2 232x300 Certified GreenThe work sites of many natural gas compressor stations, storage facilities, and transmission and distribution lines sit on thousands of acres of land. Thanks in part to partnerships between the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and America’s natural gas utilities, the land has become a healthy habitat for desirable wildlife and vegetation.

The cover story for the October issues of American Gas magazine, titled “Certified Green,” focuses on the ways the WHC helps a range of businesses develop good environmental stewardships practices for their working lands. While many of the energy companies WHC works with are already using the techniques they espouse, having a stamp of approval from an objective third party help build credibility and goodwill with customers, employees and regulators. Among the AGA member utilities that have met WHC’s “Wildlife at Work” program standards, which exceed state and federal regulatory requirements, are DTE Energy, Spectra Energy and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE).

Nearly three dozen DTE work sites have been WHC-certified over the past decade, including an 80-acre compressor site and a nearby 2,360-acre underground natural gas storage reservoir. Deer and wild turkey wander on the site of pipes, engines and equipment, while waterfowl paddle around a lake and an on-site cooling pond.

In 2007, WHC helped EQT develop a plan to assuage the concerns of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local community when the natural gas producer built a pipeline through eastern Kentucky. As part of the plan to ensure biodiversity, EQT used a native seed mix for its erosion control and vegetative cover requirements. Since 2011, when Spectra Energy acquired the pipeline from EQT, the utility has planted saplings along the right-of-way and remained a certified Wildlife at Work habitat.

Beginning in 2008, BGE worked with WHC to “green” its major hub for gas distribution lines as well as maintenance and construction activity. The 72-acre site now boasts the longest continuous riparian buffer in Baltimore and adjacent wetlands, four large grassy fields inhabited by Canada geese and birds, and a pollinator garden full of plants and scrubs for bees and butterflies.

To read the full article, click here. To see more from the October issue of the magazine, click here.

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Kathryn Clay Our Focus on Safety Benefits the Environment

This article originally appeared on the SXSW Eco website as a special guest blog post by AGA Vice President of Policy Strategy Kathryn Clay.

SXSW Eco logo Our Focus on Safety Benefits the EnvironmentAccording to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the pipeline network that carries natural gas to more than 177 million Americans is the safest energy delivery system in the nation. Even with the historically excellent performance of our distribution network, safety is our top priority and natural gas utilities remain vigilant and committed to continually upgrading this crucial infrastructure. Natural gas utilities are regulated by state utility commissions which are charged with balancing the need for investments in infrastructure to provide safe and reliable service with ensuring affordable energy bills for customers and fair returns on equity that will attract capital at reasonable costs.

Over the course of the last three decades, natural gas utilities have installed modern plastic pipes at a rate of 30,000 miles per year and installed catholically protected coated steel mains at 1,500 miles per year, both connecting new customers and upgrading existing pipeline infrastructure. Pipes that may no longer be fit for service are being replaced with ones made from more modern materials. This concerted effort by America’s natural gas utilities to upgrade and modernize our nation’s pipeline network to enhance safety has contributed to a declining trend in emissions from natural gas distribution systems.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 19th Annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks released in April 2014, only 0.24 percent of produced natural gas is emitted from the delivery systems operated by local natural gas utilities. In fact, natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems have dropped 22 percent since 1990. Moreover, nearly 90 percent of the emissions declines from distribution systems since that year are due to pipeline replacements.

The effort to modernize infrastructure by replacing pipe no longer fit for service will continue to grow. Of the 38 states that have accelerated infrastructure replacement mechanisms, 9 states and the District of Columbia were approved in the past two years. As those programs ramp up, we will see more investment in enhancing safety and further emissions declines.

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