ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

New research reveals U.S. gas pipeline leaks have not improved

The report comes as the Biden administration prepares in the coming months to unveil new safety-related rules to curb methane emissions from pipeline systems that transport gas from production to local distribution.

Dakota Access pipelines Williston North Dakota
A trio of excavators move earth along the Dakota Access pipeline route east of Williston, N.D., in late July 2016.
Eric Hylden / Forum News Service
We are part of The Trust Project.

More than 2,600 hazardous gas pipeline leaks in the United States caused more than $4 billion in damages and emergency services, killed 122 people, and released 26.6 billion cubic feet of fuel as methane or carbon dioxide, according to a report released on Thursday.

The report, by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, comes as the Biden administration prepares in the coming months to unveil new safety-related rules to curb methane emissions from pipeline systems that transport gas from production to local distribution.

More energy news
The company reached an agreement with clean energy groups just before their plan goes in front of state regulators.
Xcel Energy oversaw the implosion of the former Minnesota Valley electric generation plant in Granite Falls on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. The plant generated electricity from 1930 to 2004, and was officially retired in 2009.
North Dakota will lead the application process for the Heartland Hydrogen Hub that includes Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin.
A new law makes thousands of dollars in incentives available for home energy upgrades.
The company and its supporters want an environmental review of its project, not a blanket ban or study on hypothetical projects within the watershed.
Severe cold weather across the southern U.S. in February 2021 sent energy prices soaring across the U.S. due to gas supply disruptions and a spike in demand. While the weather had a particularly severe effect on Texas’ power grid, customers in Minnesota ended up seeing significant increases in prices. Customers of the state's gas utilities ended up getting charged around $660 million more than they normally would in February.
The transmission line is aimed at bolstering grid reliability as renewable energy replaces traditional coal-fired plants. It was one of 18 projects approved by the region's grid operator Monday.
Presently, the state’s two aging nuclear plants are set to shut down in the 2030s, and while many say nuclear could be the answer to reliable clean energy, massive costs and environmental concerns remain a major roadblock. But would nuclear have any future in Minnesota if the state lifted its ban?
Roughly a thousand people were arrested during those actions. Some were charged with relatively serious crimes, including gross misdemeanors and felonies.
The president will also call on states to temporarily suspend state fuel taxes, which are often higher than federal rates, and he will challenge major oil companies to bring back idled refining capacity.

In addition, the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed last year, will enable the Department of Transportation to spend $1 billion to replace leaky gas distribution pipelines.

On average, a major new gas leak incident is reported to the federal government every 40 hours, while more minor leaks can go undetected and unrepaired for years.

The report, which shows that the incidence of major pipeline leaks or explosions has not decreased over the last decade, makes the case that the U.S. should move away from the widespread use of natural gas in homes and businesses toward electrification.

ADVERTISEMENT

"House explosions and leaking pipelines aren’t isolated incidents — they’re the result of an energy system that pipes dangerous, explosive gas across the country and through our neighborhoods," said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Environment Campaigns director.

The incidents included in the report were caused by an array of factors, from operator errors to equipment failures to natural causes.

The report recommends that policymakers step up incentives to fast-track the transition from a gas-dependent economy to one that is all-electric, encouraging homes and buildings to use electric heat pumps, stoves and other appliances.

During the transition, the report says gas infrastructure investments should focus on fixing leaks.

Methane is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide during the first 20 years it lasts in the atmosphere.

Throughout the U.S., nearly 33% of all reported gas leak incidents resulted in fire and 13% resulted in explosions. From 2010 to late 2021, 122 people were killed and another 603 were injured in gas leak incidents.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Leslie Adler.)

ADVERTISEMENT

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
The prosecutor will oversee both the investigation into Trump's handling of sensitive government documents and the probe into attempts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, according to a Justice Department official.
Pelosi, an 82-year-old liberal from California who has served two stints as speaker, said she will remain in Congress, representing San Francisco in the House as she has done for 35 years. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York may seek to take her place as the top Democrat in the House. Jeffries would be the first Black lawmaker to lead one of the major parties' caucuses in Congress.