Climate change is an important issue. Increased use of natural gas is helping to combat climate change by lowering carbon dioxide emissions. While U.S. gas production is up 37 percent since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions are down 17 percent.
Because natural gas is made of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, the natural gas industry is hard at work lowering those emissions. The natural gas pipeline industry is tackling methane emissions by “tightening up” its system. In the past 30 years, the industry has reduced the number of pipeline leaks by 94 percent through pipeline integrity and maintenance programs and continued investment in new pipeline facilities. That has prevented emission of 122 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent. That is like eliminating a yearlong 25 million car traffic jam, enough to wrap the earth three times.
In order to assess our progress in reducing methane emissions, INGAA analyzed the methane emissions data that the transmission and storage sector reported to EPA between 2011-2017 under Subpart W of the mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. The data showed that between 2011 and 2017, average methane emissions from transmission and storage natural gas compressor stations decreased by 23 percent. During this time, the total emissions from these facilities decreased from 4,810,192 metric tons of CO2-equivalent to 4,530,277 metric tons of CO2-equivalent. Yet, the number of transmission and storage natural gas compressor stations reporting these data to EPA increased from 465 to 567. That means that the emissions decreased from an average of 10,344 metric tons of CO2-equivalent per facility to 7,990 metric tons of CO2-equivalent per facility. This average reduction is equivalent to each of these 567 transmission and storage compressor stations taking 500 passenger vehicles off the road each year, for a total of 1.1 million passenger vehicles removed from the road between 2011 and 2017.
Natural gas has an important role in helping the nation become a larger user of renewable energy, like wind and solar in electric generation. It is the number one “back stop” to ensure we continue to have electricity when intermittent renewable resources are unavailable.