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Air quality impacts of liquefied natural gas in the South Coast Air Basin of California


The effects of liquefied natural gas (LNG) on pollutant emission inventories and air quality in the South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) of California are evaluated using recent appliance emissions measurements by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), and use of a state-of-the-art air quality model. Pollutant emissions can be impacted by LNG operation because of differences in composition and physical properties including the Wobbe index, a measure of energy delivery rate. Various LNG distribution scenarios are evaluated to determine the potential impacts of LNG. Projected penetration of LNG in the SoCalGas pipeline network in SoCAB is expected to be limited, which could cause increases in overall (area-wide) emissions of nitrogen oxides that are smaller than 0.05%. Based on the photochemical state of the South Coast Air Basin of California, any increase in NOx is expected to cause an increase in the highest local ozone concentrations, which is observed in model results. However, the magnitude of NOx emissions increases due to LNG use is determined to be within the uncertainty range of natural gas combustion sources and would not be discernible with the existing monitoring network.

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