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A project of the Nevada Conservation League

Issue Spotlight - Methane Gas

To meet our state’s ambitious climate goals of 100% clean electricity and zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Nevada must invest in local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and reduce fossil fuel use across the board. That includes methane (or “natural”) gas - a harmful fossil fuel and climate pollutant.

The methane gas we burn for heating, hot water, cooking, and other purposes in our homes and buildings can create dangerous levels of indoor air pollution and is responsible for 11% of climate pollution in the state. The carbon footprint of methane gas in Nevada is even greater because we import all of our gas from out of state, and it leaks into the atmosphere along the way. There are more efficient electric alternatives to all of these appliances, and going all-electric will make our homes healthier and safer while also fighting climate change.

Unfortunately, fossil fuel companies continue the fight to expand and derail climate action. This session, Southwest Gas was the driving force behind SB 296. The bill would have doubled down on gas by forcing Nevadans to pay billions of dollars over decades for new unnecessary pipes, giving the gas company a big payout at everybody else’s expense. Thankfully, as the facts became clear, the bill died without receiving a hearing.

Concerns about how worthwhile spending is for a gas system that may be obsolete by 2050, and a history of Southwest Gas trying to saddle customers with frivolous and inappropriate costs, led Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen to introduce AB 380 - Responsible Energy Planning. This measure would have required Nevada’s gas utilities to demonstrate that future spending on the gas system offers economic, environmental, and other benefits to the state and utility customers and is the best option available. The bill would have also required the Public Utilities Commission to investigate the barriers and challenges low-income households face in upgrading to more energy-efficient electric appliances that could significantly reduce their bills. Unfortunately, AB380 died at the first committee passage deadline - misinformation from Southwest Gas resulted in the bill not having enough support from the Assembly Committee on Growth & Infrastructure to move forward.

The conversation about the future of gas in Nevada that started during the 2021 Legislative Session will continue as the Public Utilities Commission opened an investigation on these topics. Without bold action, the use of gas in buildings will continue to increase, contributing to even worse droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. But if the state moves toward the use of local, clean electricity to meet these needs, Nevadans can expect a future with cleaner, healthier air, and more good-paying jobs.