Natural gas consumers in Massachusetts have paid up to $1.5 billion over the last decade for fuel they never received because local utilities are not replacing hundreds of miles of old, leaky pipelines quickly enough, according to a just released congressional study reported by the Boston Globe.
The report uses Massachusetts as a test case to examine the issue of leaky gas pipelines nationwide. U.S. natural gas customers paid at least $20 billion from 2000 to 2011 for gas they never received, the report states.
"The problem is most acute in states like Massachusetts, where the gas pipeline system is older, according to the study, done by the Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee at the request of U.S. Sen. Edward Markey when he served on the panel," the Globe wrote.
The economic impact of the problem has gained increased attention in the last several months because of related risks, such as dangerous explosions, the release of pollutants that contribute to climate change, and the squandering of an important domestic resource, the Globe reported.
"Every leaky pipeline is like a hole in consumers' pockets," U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) said.
State Rep. Lori Ehrlich also spoke out about the report. "To have gas spewing into the atmosphere 24 hours a day unabated from thousands of leaks is risky and irresponsible," she said. "It's also outrageous that ratepayers bear the costs of gas and the rest of us bear the costs to the environment."
Natural gas leaks account for at least 45 percent of the methane emissions in Massachusetts, according to Markey's study. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
To read the Boston Globe article, click here.