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November 16th, 2016:

Mapping the City’s Natural Gas Leaks, Via Lasers

American Energy Coalition - November 16th, 2016

Like other cities before it, Pittsburgh is now mapping the natural gas leaks under its streets, according to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Since 2013, researchers at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Colorado State University have mapped gas leaks in 11 cities, with Pittsburgh’s results being announced recently, according to the Post-Gazette. Most cities—such as Boston with its older, corrosion-prone infrastructure—had a leak every few miles.

While these leaks aren’t all safety hazards, they do contribute to the accumulation of methane in the atmosphere, the article states. “Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas—84 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period,” the article notes.

Until recently, utilities such as Peoples Natural Gas, of Pittsburgh, have attacked natural gas leaks as safety hazards first and product wasters second. “But there’s a growing awareness that methane leaks have an unaccounted-for environmental cost as well, especially in older cities, with older pipelines made from materials that have cracked and corroded over time,” the Post-Gazette reports.

“There is currently little incentive for utilities in Pennsylvania to think about the environmental impact of methane emissions,” the article states. “Where big leaks occur in heavily populated areas, they’re already a priority from the standpoint of safety. But in the middle of a farm field, for example, there’s no regulatory incentive to pay more attention to that pipe just because it’s contributing more methane to the atmosphere.

“On top of that, utilities are allowed to recover the cost of their lost gas from customers, up to a point. Rate payers also foot the bill for pipeline replacement programs, such as Peoples’ 20-year infrastructure plan,” the article states.

To read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, click here.

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