Congressional Report: Failing Natural Gas Infrastructure Costs Consumers Billions, Threatens Environment and Public SafetyAug 1st, 2013 | By fjgallagher | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Leaks
A new report issued by the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee says a failing natural gas pipeline infrastructure costs American consumers billions of dollars each year, adds to global warming and jeopardizes the public health and safety.
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From the report:
Natural gas has been touted as a cleaner alternative to coal for producing electricity, but its environmental benefits cannot be fully realized so long as distribution pipelines are leaking such enormous quantities of gas, which is primarily comprised of methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.6 Americans also remain at risk from gas explosions and other safety hazards caused by leaky natural gas pipelines. From 2002 to 2012, almost 800 significant incidents on gas distribution pipelines, including several hundred explosions,7 killed 116 people, injured 465 others, and caused more than $800 million in property damage.
The House committee issued the report at the request of then-Rep. Ed Markey, now a member of the Senate, who asked that the document be prepared when he sat on the panel.
The report documents the extent to which gas companies routinely charge customers for fuel that is never delivered because it instead is lost through leaks that have sprung in aging pipelines, some as old as 100 years or more. The document cites Massachusetts as an example, noting that the Bay State’s ratepayers were charged “between $640 million to $1.5 billion from 2000-2011 for gas that never reached their homes and businesses.”
The report also takes U.S. gas companies to task for failing to upgrade their failing infrastructure, calling out a roster of recent high-profile natural gas explosions and noting that, “Some of these accidents might have been prevented had gas companies performed timelier repair, rehabilitation and replacement of high-risk pipeline.”
A few other highlights, quoted directly from the document:
- Gas distribution companies in 2011 reported releasing 69 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the atmosphere, almost enough to meet the state of Maine’s gas needs for a year and equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of about six million automobiles.
- The problem of leaky gas pipelines may be even worse than the data presented in this report suggests. Indeed, companies frequently report negative volumes of unaccounted for gas to various agencies—even though it’s physically impossible to dispose of more gas than enters a closed system.
- Nationwide, the natural gas distribution system is the largest source of methane emissions, accounting for 19 percent of total emissions in 2011, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
You can download and read the report for yourself here: America Pays for Gas Leaks: Natural Gas Pipeline Leaks Cost Consumers Billions
For more on how the natural gas industry plays fast and loose with gas leak numbers, check out this story: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059985416
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