AGA Finds Serious Defects in SASB Gas Utility Infrastructure Standard and Process

Policy January 29, 2016

AGA submitted comments in January 2016 expressing serious concerns regarding the non-transparent process and lack of knowledgeable, representative industry input in the development of a draft gas utility infrastructure standard proposed by the unofficial Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB). The SASB should not be confused with FASB. Unlike the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the SASB has no official role in devising financial reporting standards for use by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). There was no natural gas utility industry representation on the “working group” SASB surveyed in developing the draft standard. Neither AGA nor its member companies were consulted by SASB in the development of the draft standard. As a result, the draft standard has numerous, serious defects that would confuse rather than inform investors and the public. In some instances, notably regarding cybersecurity, the standard would call for sharing information in public filings that would actually undermine security. AGA made it clear that its submission of comments on the draft standard may not be construed as any form of support or validation of the proposed disclosures or any inference that industry input was satisfactorily considered in the development of the proposed disclosures or that the Gas Utilities Draft Standard represents a “consensus” view on such disclosures. It does not.

AGA and its members are continuously enhancing their operations through best practices, innovative programs and upgrading and modernizing the nation’s natural gas distribution system. Member companies have participated for over 20 years in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) voluntary Natural Gas STAR program to share technologies and innovations for improving the environmental performance of natural gas systems. AGA’s Board of Directors has adopted a Commitment to Enhancing Safety, and has approved voluntary AGA guidelines3 for reducing natural gas emissions. As a result of our members’ commitment to safety and efforts to modernize their distribution infrastructure, emissions from distribution have dropped 16 percent since 1990, even as the industry added over 300,000 miles of distribution mains to serve 17 million more customers, an increase of 30 percent in both cases. AGA and its members support sustainable business practices and providing clear, fact-based information to inform investors and policymakers. As noted in our comments, AGA has serious concerns about shortcomings in the SASB’s Gas Utilities Draft Standard and the non-transparent process used in its development.

A copy of the comments are attached.

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160128 AGA Comments SASB Natural Gas Distribution129.67 KB