Don Santa, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, today released the following statement on new Environmental Protection Agency reporting requirements for methane:
“We believe it’s important for EPA and all parties to get a better idea of both the volume of methane being released in the atmosphere and the sources of those releases, and these additions to the subpart W reporting program could help, depending on the methodology by which EPA collects that information.
“While a critical and necessary component of pipeline construction and maintenance activities, pipeline blowdowns (which would be measured as part of the EPA reporting requirements) contribute to methane releases from transmission pipelines. This is one of the reasons why widespread replacement of pipeline will not significantly reduce releases from natural gas transmission pipelines, i.e., the pipe itself is not the source of material releases and its replacement may in fact result in greater releases.
“As a result, we believe it’s important for the EPA to work with the federal pipeline safety regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to reduce the number of occasions where blowdowns will be required in order to comply with pipeline inspection requirements. In other words, can we find ways to accomplish the same pipeline safety goals without blowing down the pipeline? INGAA and its members are involved in research efforts to develop pipeline integrity management practices and new in-line inspection tools that reduce the number and volume of blowdowns, including those in connection with testing the material strength of pipelines, and therefore reduce the amount of methane emissions.
“INGAA members already have made great strides in reducing methane releases. The natural gas transmission industry reduced the number of leaks along the pipe by 94 percent, preventing 122 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions over the past three decades, as a result of pipeline integrity and maintenance programs and continued investment in new pipeline facilities. These prevented emissions are equivalent to removing more than 25 million passenger vehicles from the road for one year. Members are committed to go even further by establishing guidelines to reduce emissions from pipeline equipment, with a particular focus on the types of equipment with the largest emissions profile.”