As a clean, abundant and affordable fuel, natural gas plays a significant and growing role in America’s energy mix. As we join our neighbors around the world in celebrating Earth Day, it’s important to reflect on the clear and meaningful environmental benefits natural gas provides every day.
Increased production and use of natural gas have helped the United States lead the world in reducing carbon emissions. In 2018 alone, the switch to natural gas for power generation prevented 95 million tons of CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. Thanks to unprecedented production growth in the United States -up more than 37 percent since 1990 – natural gas has contributed to a 17 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, American homes that use natural gas for heating and cooking instead of electricity save on average $874 annually.
The abundant supply of natural gas has also allowed for the widespread adoption of renewable energy. Serving as a reliable partner to renewable energy sources, natural gas decreases the overall cost of electric power and allows renewables to be more affordable for everyday consumers. Natural gas generators complement renewables because they have the ability to ramp up quickly when intermittent renewable resources are unavailable.
The natural gas transmission and storage industry is strongly committed to minimizing emissions from operations. The transmission industry meets and often exceeds strict regulatory requirements, including monitoring, inspection, maintenance and repair of natural gas infrastructure.
These efforts have significantly reduced methane emissions from natural gas compressor stations. INGAA recently analyzed methane emissions data from the transmission and storage sector reported to the Environmental Protection Agency. This analysis found that between 2011 and 2017, the average methane emissions from a large natural gas compressor station decreased by 23 percent.
In addition to complying with state and federal requirements, INGAA member companies have voluntarily agreed to a series of commitments aimed at minimizing methane emissions from interstate natural gas transmission and storage operations. A few of these commitments include:
- Conducting leak surveys at all transmission and storage compressor stations by 2022 and taking corrective actions when needed.
- Minimizing methane emissions from interstate natural gas pipelines during maintenance, repair or replacement while maintaining safe and efficient operations.
- Collaborating within the INGAA membership and among other organizations to identify effective practices to detect and minimize methane emissions.
INGAA members also participate in a number of voluntary programs, including the EPA Natural Gas STAR program, EPA Methane Challenge Program, and ONE Future coalition. Through these programs, INGAA members work to improve operational efficiency and minimize methane emissions by adopting cost-effective technologies and practices.
This Earth Day, and every day, INGAA member companies take pride in the positive role natural gas plays and will continue to play in the country’s energy mix for decades to come.