Markey Introduces Legislation to Plug Natural Gas Leaks, Save Consumers Money

 

Contact: Eben BurnhamSnyder (Markey) 2022242742

Legislation follows Senator's report highlighting billions in consumer losses from old, leaky natural gas infrastructure; Supported by labor, consumer, environmental, pipeline safety groups, first responders, industry

 

WASHINGTON (November 21, 2013) Senator Edward J. Markey (DMass.) today introduced legislation that would speed up the replacement of old, leaking natural gas pipelines that are potentially costing consumers billions, causing dangerous explosions, and releasing pollution that worsens global warming. Senator Markey's legislation would prod states and natural gas companies to speed up their replacement of aged infrastructure, while providing a new, stable funding stream to put people to work building a modern natural gas system.

 

The legislation follows a report released by Senator Markey in August that showed leaky natural gas pipelines are costing American consumers tens of billions of dollars for fuel that may never reach their homes. For example, consumers in the Senator's home state of Massachusetts paid up to $1.5 billion in extra charges from 20002011 because of tens of thousands of miles of old, leaking pipelines. New England is also seeing rising use of natural gas, along with rising prices due to outdated infrastructure. 

 

"We can put people to work building a new natural gas energy backbone that is safer, cheaper, and better for the environment," said Senator Markey. "This legislation will create jobs, protect consumers from being charged for gas they may never get, and plug the dangerous leaks that cause accidents and worsen climate change."

 

The new legislation introduced today by Senator Markey has two parts. The first bill the Pipeline Modernization and Consumer Protection Act of 2013 would accelerate the repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of natural gas distribution pipelines that are leaking or pose high risks of leaking due to their age, material, or condition. To expedite these upgrades, the bill requires utilities and state regulators to consider adopting policies that prioritize repair timelines to address the leakiest pipes first; costrecovery programs that allow companies to more quickly recover the capital they spend to replace pipelines; and limits on the amount of lost and unaccountedfor gas for which utilities can charge consumers. 

 

The second piece of legislation - the Pipeline Revolving Fund and Job Creation Act would establish a state revolving loan fund for natural gas pipeline repair and replacement to provide additional tools to states and utilities to address old, leaking pipeline infrastructure. This pipeline revolving fund is modeled on the extremely successful and popular Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds. States would identify natural gas pipeline projects and, as with the established state revolving funds, would have to match 20 percent of the federal funds they receive under this program.

 

Labor, consumer, environmental groups, first responders, and industry all lined up in support today of the legislation.

 

Edward A. Kelly, President, Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts said: "The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts are pleased to support Senator Markey's legislation that will help protect the public and first responders from the dangerous explosions that can be caused by natural gas leaks. Replacing old, leaking pipelines will help reduce dangerous incidents that can threaten public safety and we applaud Senator Markey on his legislation to address this problem in Massachusetts and around the country."

 

Leo Gerard, President of United Steelworkers said: "Replacing aging pipe in our natural gas infrastructure is critical to a cleaner economy and a more efficient natural gas distribution system. Senator Markey's legislation's strong Buy American provisions ensures U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the highest quality pipe replacement while supporting American manufacturing and jobs."

 

Shanna Cleveland, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation said: "Senator Markey's proposals represent a common sense approach to fixing an aging pipeline system that poses a grave threat to public safety and the climate."

 

Rick Kessler, President, Pipeline Safety Trust said: "Senator Ed Markey has been a leader on pipeline safety for decades and these bills build on his distinguished legacy of protecting people and the environment from unsafe pipelines."

 

Bert Kalisch, President & CEO, American Public Gas Association said:  "APGA is proud to support Senator Markey's common sense and costeffective legislation to establish a State Revolving Loan Fund for the repair or replacement of LDC pipelines. This legislation provides a sustainable financing mechanism that will allow municipal utilities and other market participants to be eligible for affordable loans and loan guarantees that improve distribution system integrity and efficiency."

 

Shannon BakerBranstetter, Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment at Consumers Union said: "Many natural gas pipelines are in desperate need of repair and leaking large amounts of gas. This problem threatens public safety and the environment, and the waste is costly for consumers.  Consumers Union applauds Senator Markey for introducing legislation to help states fix this growing problem."

 

David Foster, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance said: "Fixing America's natural gas distribution pipelines is one thing we can do right now to reduce the threat of climate change, create good jobs and save consumers money. Senator Markey knows this, and is doing the right thing by introducing not one, but two bills to help states repair and replace outdated pipelines, as well as create a sensible revolving fund to pay for these repairs without unnecessarily drawing on taxpayer dollars." 

 

Franz Matzner, Associate Director of Government Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council said: "These bills recognize the need to clean up the pollution leaking from the nation's vast network of natural gas pipelines and put in place practical steps that will help reduce environmental harm and increase public safety."

 

Supporters of one or both of the bills include BlueGreen Alliance, Conservation Law Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Clean Water Action, New England Gas Workers Association, Gas Safety USA, Natural Resources Defense Council, United Steelworkers, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Massachusetts Chapter Sierra Club, Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, Pipeline Safety Trust, American Public Gas Association, National Grid, and Third Way.

 

Full text of the Pipeline Modernization and Consumer Protection Act can be found HERE and text of the Pipeline Revolving Fund and Job Creation Act can be found HERE .