Natural Gas: Certified Clean


Mar 13, 2023

U.S. Natural Gas: Driving Forward

The U.S. natural gas industry is cutting operations emissions, according to data from the EPA’s recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory, with energy industry GHG emissions 15% lower than peak 2005 levels. Natural gas system methane levels fell 8% and carbon emissions from generation fell 35%. Pennsylvania, producing nearly one-quarter of U.S. natural gas, cut emissions 44%.

Natural gas is used for ~40% of U.S. electricity generation and was a primary driver of the 2005 – 2019 U.S. emissions reductions.

EPA analysis matches research from the Institute for Energy Research’s Environmental Quality Index (EQI) showing U.S. oil and gas production is one of the most sustainable. Restricting U.S. energy production would actually harm the environment as less climate-conscious countries increase output to meet expanding global energy demand.

Currently the U.S. leads world gas production, and the U.S. and Qatar are the two top LNG exporters.

Clean natural gas can be a climate-friendly component of slowing global warming: Major energy producers, companies, and governments are working to set certification standards.

Setting Standards: Certified Natural Gas

Protecting the environment with “green” gas and maintaining European energy security are the goals of a certified gas market. Gas can be certified (low-carbon/no-carbon) if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced or carbon offsets are purchased to offset climate impact.

While efforts to create a certified gas standard have been ongoing, and third-party certification organizations such as MiQ and Project Canary can verify the production-transport chain and certify gas supplies, the range of emissions measurements and standards have prevented international consensus on certification metrics. Additionally, the European energy crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine hampered certification progress.

U.S. Coordination

Brad Crabtree, in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Office (FECM), organized October discussions with industry representatives regarding certified gas standards. An industry group, the Differentiated Gas Coordinating Council (DGCC), is also working with DOE to establish standards.

The FECM has met with representatives (EU, Japan, Norway, the UAE, Britain, and others) on methods to reduce energy industry methane emissions.

"It's a big priority for us to make sure that the role we're playing in ... supplying natural gas to our allies at a time of great energy security need is done in a way that is climate responsible," said Crabtree.

Measurement: What Counts?

The problem with certification is the variety of measurement technologies and methods – interpreting and standardizing sensor and tracking data is complicated. There are land-based, vehicle-based, drones, plane-based, and satellite platforms, each with different capabilities and methodologies.

The DGCC group, working with DOE, is trying to help establish standards and best practices for gas certification. Standards will boost international certified gas markets and help the U.S. increase clean energy exports like LNG.

Incentivizing Emissions Reduction: Challenge & Reward

Clear standards for certified natural gas will reward responsible producers while challenging and incentivizing other producing countries to meet higher environmental standards – improving global climate and health while maintaining reliable and affordable energy.