Local Natural Gas Distribution System Emissions Continue to Decline

News Release April 16, 2020

Washington, DC - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  released its Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which shows that annual emissions from the natural gas distribution system declined 73 percent from 1990 to 2018, even as natural gas utility companies added more than 760,000 miles of pipeline to serve 20 million more customers. Distribution systems owned and operated by local natural gas utilities emit only 0.08 percent of produced natural gas.

“The greenhouse gas emissions from the natural gas distribution system are low and getting lower and we remain committed to further reductions,” said AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert. “As companies continue to modernize our natural gas infrastructure and connect homes and businesses to the system, new opportunities arise to continue to drive down greenhouse gas emissions by leveraging new and existing natural gas infrastructure, advanced technologies, and the nation’s abundant natural gas resources.”

 For more than two decades, EPA has developed and published estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. The EPA Inventory represents the most comprehensive assessment of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions available. The EPA made further updates to its Inventory released in April 2020.

 The analysis characterized new estimates for methane emissions and the implications for the greenhouse gas profile for natural gas. The Inventory affirms a low methane emissions profile for natural gas distribution systems shaped by a declining trend.

 Industry-wide natural gas emissions as a rate of production is now 1.0 percent—a level well below even the most stringent thresholds for immediate climate benefits achieved through coal-to-natural gas switching.

 The American Gas Association is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through smart innovation, new and modernized infrastructure, and advanced technologies that maintain reliable, resilient, and affordable energy service choices for consumers.

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 76 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 95 percent — more than 73 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than thirty percent of the United States' energy needs.