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AG Nessel Joins Coalition Supporting Federal Rules to Improve Pipeline Safety and Protect the Environment

LANSINGMichigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 13 attorneys general led by Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown and New York Attorney General Letitia James in comments supporting the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) proposed Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair Rules. The rules largely implement the bipartisan PIPES Act of 2020 and would require the use of commercially available leak detection technology and common-sense operational controls to minimize both intentional and unintentional releases from gas pipelines.

We must update and strengthen federal pipeline safety rules to protect the public from harmful methane emissions, which threaten our health and exacerbate climate change,” Nessel said. “I stand firmly with my colleagues in calling for improved quality control and more advanced leak detection for our nation’s pipelines.”

America’s gas pipeline system is used primarily to transport methane-based gases for home heating, electricity generation, and industrial uses. Leaks along this system can present a significant threat to public safety because methane is both flammable and explosive. Additionally, methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Thus, any leaks from gas pipelines present an unnecessary contribution to climate change.

The attorneys general support the proposed rule, which would greatly improve public safety and significantly reduce emissions of climate-altering methane gas by:

  • Increasing the minimum survey frequencies for detecting leaks on gas infrastructure and requiring more of those surveys to be conducted using commercially available leak detection equipment. Current regulations allow many surveys to rely on human senses – sight and smell – alone, despite the wide availability of methane detecting technologies.
  • Requiring all Grade 2 and Grade 3 leaks – those that do not pose imminent threats to public safety – to be repaired within reasonable timeframes. Currently, only leaks posing immediate public safety concerns face any federal repair requirement.
  • Requiring operators of transmission pipelines, some gathering lines, and LNG facilities, to take proven steps to minimize the intentional releases associated with pipeline maintenance and repair.
  • Establishing design requirements for pressure relief devices on new and modified pipelines and requiring the prompt repair of such devices if they are venting more gas than is necessary for safe pipeline operations.

The comments are joined by the attorneys general of Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the comments can be found here (PDF).


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