(SACRAMENTO, California – May 29, 2014) Environmental Defense Fund commended the California State Senate today for taking the next step in passing the nation’s leading legislation to reduce methane pollution from natural gas utilities. SB1371, authored by Mark Leno, will now head to the State Assembly. Methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, is a potent climate pollutant - 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over 20 years – and gas utility infrastructure, including pipes and associated equipment, is a major source of this powerful greenhouse gas pollutant.
California is the nation’s second largest consumer of natural gas, and has over 100,000 miles of pipes and other equipment that delivers natural gas to customers across the state. While gas utilities are required to conduct periodic inspections of their systems and fix leaks they determine are an immediate danger to public safety, there is no requirement for utilities to fix leaks that pose an environmental threat. SB 1371 will close this loophole, requiring the California Public Utilities Commission and the gas utilities they regulate to address leaks that pose a significant environmental risk in addition to a safety risk, and determine best practices for leak identification, leak repair, and leak avoidance adapted to the realities of each gas utility.
“The science is clear: to effectively battle dangerous climate change we need to reduce short term climate forcers, like methane, as well as carbon dioxide, which warms our planet in the long run,” said Tim O’Connor, Director of EDF’s California Climate Initiative. “Senator Leno’s bill addresses a significant gap in California’s otherwise comprehensive effort to battle climate change.”
O’Connor added “This is a pocketbook issue besides – California’s natural gas customers are paying for this gas, whether it is delivered to their homes, or lost through leaks. Fixing leaks means consumers are getting more of what they are actually paying for.”
# # #
Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and on our EDF Voices and Energy Exchange blogs.