Natural gas has played a critical role in reducing emissions over the last several decades. Since 2005, natural gas has contributed to 61% of the reductions of CO2 emissions in the electricity sector. This is largely because gas has replaced less environmentally friendly sources of power, since it is the cleanest, most affordable, and most efficient fuel that can be easily brought to market. Expanded use of natural gas will continue to help improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For years, millions of homes and businesses have connected to the U.S. natural gas delivery system – at a rate of more than one customer per minute, on average. Despite this growth, during the past 20 years, carbon dioxide emissions from the residential, commercial, and industrial natural gas sectors have been virtually unchanged. Furthermore, methane emissions from local distribution systems have declined 73% since 1990, even as natural gas utility companies added more than 760,000 miles of pipeline. This progress is due to smart investments to expedite modernization of natural gas infrastructure and support energy efficiency programs in collaboration with state regulators.
While continuing to deliver natural gas safely, affordably, and reliably, it is important for companies to continually reduce the environmental footprint of natural gas. Regulators and policymakers are increasingly focused on the environmental impact of energy delivery, and as part of that effort, it is important to consider the opportunities for U.S. natural gas infrastructure to support and even expedite the transition to a decarbonized energy system. In concert with a broader portfolio of efforts to reduce emissions from operations, utilities are looking at opportunities to integrate renewable natural gas, and explore the potential for future fuels like hydrogen. These panelists will offer perspectives on the opportunities and challenges associated with low carbon fuels to advance decarbonization efforts for natural gas utilities, and the policy considerations associated with furthering these efforts for customers and communities.