Law to Identify and Eliminate Natural Gas Leaks Gains Momentum in Senate Committee

April 29, 2014
Contact: 
Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437, lwhittenberg@edf.org
Eric Jaffe, 415-397-5000 x311, ejaffe@resource-media.org

(Sacramento, California—April 29, 2014) Today, members of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications voted to make methane gas leaks discovery and repair an environmental, safety and economic priority. The bill, SB 1371, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, has dual policy goals: ensure the state maintains a focus on public safety and reduce the harmful climate change effects of fugitive methane.

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is an extremely potent short-term climate pollutant, with a near-term global warming potential 84 times that of carbon dioxide. Currently, utilities are required to address leaks that pose an imminent threat to public safety.  However, there is no mandate to fix leaks that do not pose a hazard yet still present danger in the form of harmful climate pollution.

According to Tim O’Connor, Director of EDF's California Climate Initiative, “Not only is natural gas leakage a significant source of global warming pollution if pipes and associated infrastructure leak methane on an ongoing basis, fugitive emissions equate to lost economic value for the state.”

Many climate change experts now warn that the potential climate benefit from the use of natural gas could be undercut if methane emissions are not curtailed. A summary of SB 1371, issued by Senator Leno’s office, states that the legislation will, “determine best practices for leak identification, leak repair, and leak avoidance adapted to the realities of each gas utility.”

The following experts are available for comment on climate impacts of fugitive methane emissions:

Environmental Defense Fund
Tim O’Connor, Director California Climate Initiative: toconnor@edf.org / (916) 549 - 8423

BlueGreen Alliance
Eric Steen, Director of Communications: Erics@bluegreenalliance.org / (612) 466-4488

Utility Workers Union of America
Jerry Acosta, Senior Region V Representative: jacosta@uwua.net / (602) 684-0552 

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