Researchers estimate that distribution pipelines alone have about 630,000 leaks discharging 690 thousand tons of methane annually– 5 times higher than approximated in the U.S. EPA greenhouse gas inventory.The PIPES Act of 2020 directs the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to set standards to minimize methane emissions from all three pipeline categories: event lines, which bring gas in from spread wells to central collection points; long distance transmission lines, which move gas around the country; and numerous miles of regional circulation lines that bring gas to your door.Gathering lines are a vital addition. As PHMSA relocations toward strong ALD standards for gas pipelines by the end of 2021, they should include: Clear standards for minimum technology efficiency, survey approaches and study frequency– with flexibility built in to make sure ongoing innovation improvement.Comprehensive coverage of transmission, distribution and event pipelines.Strong reporting requirements to make sure public knowledge about pipeline methane, and to enable operators to demonstrate progress in reducing leakage.Mandatory benchmarking of actual present methane emissions and required tracking of improvements year over year.Allowable services to repair leaks need to consist of repair, replacement and retirement of the pipeline sector. The agency must act now to update and settle standards for event lines, including suggestions by EDF and the Pipeline Safety Trust: Repeal the exemption for reporting requirements for gas event lines and add gathering lines to the National Pipeline Mapping System to offer constant, available info about the ownership, size, area and operating pressure of event infrastructure.Revise the meaning of gas event lines to broaden the scope of regulated lines and require operators to report on event lines within 6 months of the new meaning taking effect.Ensure that reported details is public, transparent and in machine-readable format to help with public understanding and academic research.Multiple benefitsIn addition to improving pipeline safety and decreasing climate-changing methane emissions, extensive ALD standards will develop new jobs and grow the methane mitigation service sector, which has almost doubled in size since 2017.
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