Natural Gas Distribution Emissions Continue to Fall

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 69 percent from 1990 to 2019, as natural gas utility companies added more than 788,000 miles of pipeline to serve 21 million more customers. Distribution systems owned and operated by local natural gas utilities emit only 0.08 percent of produced natural gas.

“This downward trend in emissions underscores the valuable role that natural gas will continue to play in our nation’s clean energy future,” said AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert. “Delivering affordable, reliable energy does not have to be at odds with clean energy goals, and this data shows just that. Our industry is committed to the cleaner energy future we all are striving for and will continue to work every day to help ensure Americans have the energy they want and need while achieving our environmental goals.”

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 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.