ASTM D03 Committee, “Gaseous Fuels,” Approves Definition of ‘Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).’
As a reminder, the BECS Committee has continued to be concerned that the introduction of new pipeline quality gases (i.e. RNG, hydrogen blends, etc.)  into distribution systems will not cause operational issues with natural gas appliances, equipment and transportation applications.  AGA’s Ted Williams is a member of the ASTM D03 Committee and reports that by Committee ballot, the ASTM Committee approved the new RNG definition as follows:
“renewable natural gas (RNG), n – a pipeline-quality gas that is all or in part from renewable sources and is fully interchangeable with geological (fossil fuel) natural gas.”
The inclusion of “interchangeability” in the definition presents a specific criterion for end use equipment and its operation on RNG, particularly RNGs that blend hydrogen with natural gas.  Hydrogen is well known to contribute to flame lift in diffusion flame burners used in most appliances in the field, and this behavior is reflected in standard gas interchangeability calculations.  Recently completed appliance tests on 5% and 15% hydrogen blends with pure methane do not show this behavior, but since pure methane blends are used for test reproducibility and not representativeness of actual natural gases, analysis of interchangeability impacts upon burner performance on actual natural gas compositions, such as those sampled from gas distribution systems, is needed to assess suitability of 15% and higher natural gas blends for use in appliances.  This analysis is particularly relevant to residential appliances using diffusion flame burners such as “atmospheric burner” water heaters, furnaces, and space heaters. 
In response to this new criterion, AGA staff is analyzing interchangeability based upon sampled gas compositions from recent data sources including the 2014 “Natural Gas Vehicle Fuel Survey,” conducted by the Southwest Research Institute and funded by Coordinating Research Council and AGA.  The survey presents data that is directly relevant to appliance operability as well as vehicle fuel suitability and summarizes historical and online gas quality data, interstate pipeline gas composition postings, and sampled vehicle refueling dispenser samples.  Among these sources, gases with methane contents around 85% methane, the balance being higher hydrocarbons, inert gases, or both of these non-methane constituents, were represented.  Such gases may have distinct gas interchangeability challenges with hydrogen is added. Beyond RNGs that blend hydrogen in natural gas, other RNGs such a biogas and landfill gas may not represent major interchangeability challenges, provided methane contents are high and, particularly in the case of landfill gases, inert gas fractions are kept low.
Heartland Institute and Climate Science Coalition of America Leader Criticize Sierra Club and UCLA School of Public Health Study Promoting Electrification.
In an article published both by The Heartland Institute and in The American Oil and Gas Reporter on Thursday and Friday, Mr. Steve Goreham, a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute and Executive Director for the Climate Science Coalition of America, criticized the Sierra Club/UCLA Fielding School of Public Health study, Effects of Residential Gas Appliances on Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality and Public Health in California.”  His article, “Study On Gas Appliances Misleads Californians, Exemplifies Public’s Misconceptions,” criticizes the “study” for not providing new data to support its claims regarding negative indoor air quality impacts from gas-fired residential cooking and lack of citations that directly support its indoor air quality claims.  Mr. Goreham also contests the “study’s” claims regarding outdoor pollution, particularly emissions associated with particulate matter in the particle size range of 2.5 micrometer (µm) and smaller (PM2.5).  In addition, Mr. Goreham challenges the study’s relevance to climate concerns as addressed in the State of California and its neglect for crediting the contribution of natural gas direct use to reduced air pollutant emissions and to increased consumer welfare in the face of increasing energy costs.  The article, while broadly and general in its addressing issues of the study, is complementary to the work of California gas utilities and AGA support of their efforts in responding to the Sierra Club and UCLA School of Public Health claims, AGA support focusing on indoor air quality claims and technical literature citations directly attributed to supporting those claims.  Based upon AGA Codes and Standards’ understanding of the debate in California over the study, Mr. Goreham’s article appears to be the first published critical review, although gas industry response is anticipated in the near future.
GTI and the Energy Institute of Colorado State University Sponsor, “CH4 Connections: The Methane Emissions Virtual Conference.”
During a recent BECS Committee meeting, members were interested in finding out about efforts to introduce natural gas that is touted as being produced in a responsible manner and if it would have any impact on end use natural gas applications. An upcoming virtual conference sponsored by GTI and the Energy Institute of Colorado State University ( Announcement Attached) is scheduled  to be held on November 17ththrough 19th, and will include additional information on the subject and includes among its several panels, “Panel #1: Consumer-Driven Environmental Standards” featuring panelists from Rocky Mountain Institute and Responsible Energy Solutions.  As the Panel Spotlight is described:
Consumers of natural gas – particularly power generators and end consumers through their distribution companies – are increasingly interested in responsibly sourced gas. This panel will explore the current state of these efforts, the players, and possible structures for implementing these initiatives.” 
“Responsibly sourced gas” is not described or defined in either the conference materials or in the AGA Glossary, but an active movement to implement certifications and valuation for natural gas meeting specific criteria as “responsible natural gas” is underway.  BECS Committee members have express interest in clearer understanding of this terminology, what natural gas sources do not meet minimum criteria for this definition, and how those sources should be used in natural gas distribution systems.
State Codes Activity Update
[This is a weekly feature of the “Friday Update” covering state code calendar activities as presented by the online utility “Fiscal Note,” which is sponsored by APGA and AGA Code and Standards.]
Recent Activity Alerts
On August 1, 2020 the 2020 edition of the NFPA 70 National Electrical Code (NEC) will be adopted by the State of Colorado and enforced by the City of Boulder. As a result, the 2020 NEC will become the minimum standard for electrical permits issued on or after August 1, 2020.
Recent and Upcoming Code Body Meetings
Building Code Council
325 N. Salisbury Street Raleigh, NC 27603
State Building Code Council (SBCC)
State Codes and Standards Committee
Bills with Recent Activity
Bill #
Bill Title
Primary Sponsor(s)
Last Action
Last Action Date
Change provisions related to state and local building codes
Megan Hunt (NP)
Failed; Indefinitely Postponed
Summary: This bill updates the IBC to the 2018 edition.
Provide for the applicability of state and local construction codes
Senate Committee on Urban Affairs
Failed; Indefinitely Postponed
Summary: This bill amends 71-6405 (1), adding that the state building code shall be the legally applicable code in all buildings and structures owned by the state or any state agency regardless of whether the state, state agency, or applicable county, city, or village has provided for the administration or enforcement of the state building code.