More than 2,600 dangerous gas pipeline leaks in the United States caused more than $4 billion in damage and emergency services, killed 122 people and released 26.6 billion cubic feet of fuel in the form of methane or dioxide carbon, according to a report released Thursday.
The report, authored by the US 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. pipeline systems that transport gas from production to local distribution.
Additionally, the federal bipartisan infrastructure act, passed last year, will allow the Department of Transportation to spend $1 billion to replace leaking gas distribution lines.
On average, a new major gas leak incident is reported to the federal government every 40 hours, while more minor leaks can go undetected and unfixed for years.
The report, which shows the incidence of major pipeline leaks or explosions hasn’t decreased over the past decade, says the U.S. should move away from widespread use of natural gas in homes and businesses towards electrification.
“Home explosions and pipeline leaks are not isolated incidents – they are the result of an energy system that is moving dangerous and explosive gases across the country and through our neighborhoods,” said Matt Casale, director environmental campaigns from the US PIRG Education Fund.
The incidents included in the report were caused by a range of factors, ranging from operator errors to equipment failures to natural causes.
The report recommends that policymakers step up incentives to accelerate the transition from a gas-dependent economy to an all-electric economy, by encouraging homes and buildings to use heat pumps, stoves and other electric appliances .
During the transition, the report says investments in gas infrastructure should focus on fixing leaks.
Methane is more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide for the first 20 years of its presence in the atmosphere.
In the United States, nearly 33% of all reported gas leak incidents resulted in a fire and 13% resulted in an explosion. From 2010 to the end of 2021, 122 people have been killed and 603 others injured in gas leaks.
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