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Natural Gas System Emissions Decrease from 5 percent from 2015

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On June 15, 2017, CPUC approved the Natural Gas Leak Abatement Program, consistent with Senate Bill 1371. The decision, made in consultation with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), established rules and procedures for natural gas utilities to provide annual emissions reports, put in place 26 mandatory best practices for minimizing methane emissions, and ordered utilities to complete biennial compliance plans beginning in March 2018.

 

The program's goal is to achieve a 40 percent reduction from the baseline by 2030, consistent with the State's Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy.  

 

 As part of the program, the CPUC and CARB jointly analyzed emissions data submitted by utilities. The analysis shows emissions for 2016 for the sector are approximately 8.08 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2e), assuming a 20-year methane global warming potential.  The emissions from the Aliso Canyon leak are included in the report, as estimated by CARB, for informational purposes only but are not part of the overall estimate. 

 

 The 2016 methane emissions are approximately five percent lower than the 2015 baseline data (8.51 MMTCO2e), primarily due to reductions in intentional vented emissions from pipelines.  Although encouraging, natural gas consumption also decreased with a resulting leakage rate similar to 2015.  The CPUC and CARB will continue to analyze data to confirm the trend in emission reductions over time to enable meeting the 2030 goal.  


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