- Natural gas now contributes more to U.S. climate pollution than coal.
- Methane, the primary component of natural gas, has over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years.
- Prior to the PIPES Act of 2020, natural gas pipeline operators, representing the transportation segments of the natural gas supply chain, were able to leak and vent natural gas into the atmosphere as a regular course of business so long as there was no risk of explosion.
- The pipeline segments of the natural gas supply chain (gathering, transmission and storage, and local distribution) are estimated to emit nearly 5 Million Tons of methane each year (which translates to an equivalence of about 160 Million tons of CO2).
- The PIPES Act of 2020, for the first time, requires operators to find and repair leaks even if they pose no risk of explosion, and must minimize intentional releases.
- The regulating agency, PHMSA, is often hamstrung by statutory rulemaking limitations, meaning without pressure, the promulgation of weak rules despite the strong substantive legislation is quite possible.
- PHMSA is also considering bringing more gathering lines under its regulation – the vast majority of gathering lines are not currently regulated and would therefore not be subject to the new rules. Pressure is needed to bring as many miles of gathering lines under federal regulation and therefore required to eliminate leaks and minimize emissions.
PHMSA’s Methane Rulemaking
Sections 113 and 114 of the PIPES Act of 2020 (search for “SEC. 113. LEAK DETECTION AND REPAIR.” to jump to appropriate section)
PHMSA’s Gathering Lines Rulemaking
Pipeline Safety Trust’s Congressional Testimony (go to page 13 for testimony related to gathering lines)