Markey: When We Fix Leaky Natural Gas Pipelines, We Can Save Lives and Money, Create Jobs
Markey legislation supported by labor, consumer, environmental, pipeline safety groups, first responders, industry
Washington (May 6, 2015) – After several years in which communities across the country have suffered dangerous, sometimes deadly natural gas explosions as a result of old, leaking natural gas pipelines, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today re-introduced legislation with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i) that would provide additional incentives to replace and repair aging natural gas distribution infrastructure that is potentially costing consumers billions of dollars, and releasing pollution that worsens global warming. Senator Markey's legislation would urge states and natural gas companies to speed up their replacement of old natural gas infrastructure, and would provide a new, stable funding stream to put people to work building a modern natural gas system. The Obama administration’s recently released Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) makes similar recommendations to establish a competitive program to accelerate pipeline replacement and improve the quantification of methane emissions from America’s natural gas system.
In August 2013, Senator Markey released a report 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 Massachusetts paid up to $1.5 billion in extra charges from 2000-2011 because of tens of thousands of miles of old, leaking pipelines.
“When we fix old, leaking natural gas pipelines, we can help save lives and money and put people to work building new critical infrastructure,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “This legislation will create jobs, help save consumers money, and fix the dangerous leaks that cause accidents and add to climate change.”
Senator Markey today reintroduced two bills. The first bill, the Pipeline Modernization and Consumer Protection Act, 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 legislation requires utilities and state regulators to consider adopting policies that prioritize repair timelines to address the leakiest pipes first; cost-recovery programs that allow companies to more quickly recover the capital they spend to replace pipelines; and limits on the amount of lost and unaccounted for 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 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.
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.