California Sets New Precedent to Cut More Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Pipelines

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a sweeping new plan that radically changes how gas utilities will deal with intentional and unintentional leaks in their pipelines. Under the new plan, companies are required to prioritize repair of gas leaks that may not pose an immediate safety risk but do contribute to global warming. It also ensures utilities stop the practice of purposeful venting when equipment is available to prevent it.

Every year, California’s gas pipelines emit more than 100,000 metric tons of methane — the main component of natural gas and a potent climate pollutant. This action is expected to reduce 40 percent of the state’s utility methane emissions by 2030 — making it a significant step forward in California’s quest to make its energy system carbon neutral.

“This is a massive deal that will fundamentally change the way we think about gas leaks. After years in development, California utilities are finally accountable for reducing the negative environmental impact that gas leakage can cause. If implemented nationwide, this action could make our nation’s pipelines cleaner and safer, and put a significant dent in the oil and gas industry’s carbon footprint.”

It is the first standard of its kind to be fully implemented and comes as recent peer-reviewed science has demonstrated the climate benefit of using natural gas can be completely erased through leaks in the production, transmission and distribution system.

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