(Reuters) – More than 2,600 dangerous gas pipeline leaks in the United States have 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 carbon dioxide. carbon, according to a report released Thursday. .
The report, produced by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Americas Environment Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group, comes as the Biden administration prepares in the coming months to unveil new rules related to the safety to reduce methane emissions from pipeline systems that transport gas from production to local distribution.
In addition, 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 other minor leaks can go unnoticed and unrepaired for years.
The report, which shows that the incidence of large pipeline leaks or bursts has not decreased over the past decade, argues that the US should move away from widespread use of natural gas in homes and businesses towards electrification.
“Home explosions and leaky pipes are not isolated incidents: They are the result of an energy system that funnels dangerous and explosive gases across the country and through our neighborhoods,” said Matt Casale, director of environmental campaigns for the US PIRG Education Fund
The incidents included in the report were caused by a variety of factors, from operator error to equipment failure to natural causes.
The report recommends that lawmakers increase incentives to speed the transition from a gas-dependent economy to one that is all-electric 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 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide during the first 20 years it remains in the atmosphere.
In the US, nearly 33% of all reported gas leak incidents resulted in fires and 13% resulted in explosions. From 2010 to the end of 2021, 122 people were killed and another 603 injured in gas leak incidents.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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