Stop Climate Destroying Methane Leaks and Pipeline Expansion

Leaking gas infrastructure is a concern for the climate and for human health and safety. Methane is the second most common greenhouse gas and is causing rapid climate disruption, because methane is 100 times worse than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over the short term. The negative human health impacts include higher rates of asthma, cancer, birth defects and other ailments in people living near gas infrastructure such as power plants.

A recent survey and analysis by Sierra Club Connecticut found a high number of methane leaks in Connecticut.  It is essential that we proactively monitor and repair leaks and stop building new pipelines. 

 

Senate Bill 232, currently before the Connecticut legislature, will address gas leaks by forbidding gas companies from charging ratepayers for leaked gas, and will lower the threshold of leak tolerance from 3% to 1%, requiring repair at 1% of leaked gas.

 

In 2015, Connecticut passed a pipeline tax to allow ratepayers to be charged to finance new gas pipelines. Connecticut has now committed to a clean, renewable energy future and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.  Gas pipelines do not fit into that future, and the pipeline tax should be repealed. 

Press release, April 10, 2019 on 2019 Mobile Methane Study

 

A recent survey and analysis commissioned by Sierra Club Connecticut found a high number of methane gas leaks from gas pipelines along the streets in three cities.  In Danbury, Hartford and New London, as many as 4 leaks on average per mile were identified. The survey results were similar to those found in the 2016 Hartford Gas Leaks Study.

 

"Sierra Club Connecticut’s 2016 Hartford Gas Leaks Study found a much higher rate of leaks than was reported by PURA, the pipeline safety administrator in the state. Now, in 2019, we found methane leaks remain prevalent and persistent in Hartford and are also present in other Connecticut towns...." Tim Keyes, report author.

 

For years, research has shown that methane emissions are not accurately recorded over the lifecycle of the fossil fuel (see Howarth, Santoro, Ingraffea). According to a 2017 U.S. Energy Information Administration report, “lost and unaccounted for” gas was 0.3% of the total consumption in the state. This figure is determined entirely by using estimates and mathematical formulas. The objective measurement of methane leaks in three Connecticut cities obtained by this survey paints a rather different picture.

 

Leaking gas infrastructure is a concern for the climate and for human health and safety. Methane is the second most common greenhouse gas and is causing rapid climate disruption, because methane is 100 times worse than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over the short term. The negative human health impacts include higher rates of asthma, cancer, birth defects and other ailments in people living near gas infrastructure such as power plants.

 

Due to a law passed in 2014, Connecticut ratepayers are charged for leaked or "lost and unaccounted for" gas by the two gas companies in our state, Eversource and UI, who own Yankee Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas/Southern CT Gas respectively.

Policy call to action: Stop Climate Destroying Methane Leaks and Pipeline Expansion

Repairing methane leaks, and ending the disincentive of paying utilities for lost and unaccounted for gas are two priorities of the environmental community. 

-       Senate Bill 232 before the legislature would forbid gas companies from charging ratepayers for leaked gas, and that would lower the threshold of leak tolerance from 3% to 1%.

-       House Bill 6242: Connecticut has now committed to a clean, renewable energy future and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.  Gas pipelines do not fit into that future, and the pipeline tax should be repealed.

Quotes regarding the 2019 Gas Leaks Study:

"Gas pipeline leaks are a hazard like oil pipelines, but they are invisible. For the sake of our planet we cannot let this go on."

-       Ann Gadwah, Chair, Sierra Club Connecticut.

 

“This report is another reminder of how vital it is to make renewable energy development a national priority.  At the local level, we’re pursuing a bold Climate Action Plan, but we need a broader effort to modernize the existing energy infrastructure.”

-       Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

 

“The collapse of the gas system that is still affecting the Merrimack Valley could happen in any city or state with any gas company.  Meanwhile, our aging infrastructure is creating more gas leaks than utilities can fix—increasing emissions, affecting our health, killing trees, and costing us, the customers, money.  We need transparency and expediency from our gas companies to increase safety and fix the largest leaks while moving quickly off of gas to clean, safe and renewable energy.”

-       Debbie New, Mothers Out Front and Co-coordinator, Gas Leaks Allies Massachusetts / Gas Leaks Allies is a coalition of over 20 nonprofits, researchers, and concerned citizens in Massachusetts.


"Gas companies shouldn't profit from letting a potent greenhouse gas escape into the atmosphere, and ratepayers shouldn't be charged for gas they never use. This report shows again that Connecticut has a real problem with gas leaking from pipes, and that we urgently need legislation that incentivizes gas companies to repair this ongoing hazard. We also need to speed up our transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy."

-        Leah Lopez Schmalz, Chief Program Officer, Connecticut Fund for the Environment


“This study ground truths what clean energy advocates have suspected all along - that the state’s gas pipes are leaking more than is reported to PURA. When gas pipes leak, climate pollution increases and ratepayers are stuck paying for gas they aren’t using. PURA and the legislature should act now to address this issue.”

-       Amy McLean Salls, CT Director and Senior Policy Advocate, Acadia Center

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