Massachusetts law will speed up repairs of leaking gas pipelines

Recently, this blog featured a post about a potential natural gas pipeline planned for Massachusetts, which will connect the state to the shale oil fields of New York and Pennsylvania. However, as environmental groups pay close attention to issues of safety associated with this pipeline, it is important to remember that there are existing pipelines in the state that need attention.

According to a report by The Boston Globe, the state is working on a proposal that will speed up the process of repairing thousands of leaks in natural gas pipelines, which will not only save producers and consumers money, but also reduce the risk of explosions.

The news source noted that this plan will establish a uniform system of leak classification that will rank potential leaks based on their severity and set a timeline for repairs. In addition, utilities will be allowed to charge a few extra dollars each month in order to fund these repairs—though customers will ultimately be freed from having to pay the costs of lost gas due to leaks. 

"As this flammable gas travels under our feet in often archaic pipes, I'm thrilled we are compelling gas companies to track their known leaks in a more transparent and uniform way," state Representative Lori Ehrlich, a Democrat from Marblehead, told the news source. "The stakes are too high."

In addition to posing immediate danger, natural gas leaks tend to release methane, which is a well-known greenhouse gas. This is why stakeholders should work with environmental consultants as they patch up the most egregious leaks in the state.