Governor Deval Patrick hosted a ceremonial bill signing Monday for H. 4164 “An Act Relative to Natural Gas Leaks.” The goal of the law is to reduce potentially hazardous gas leaks in Massachusetts, and by doing so aims to ensure public safety, protect the environment, reduce costs, and create jobs.
The legislation categorizes natural gas leaks by their damage potential and sets a standard for how different grades of leaks should be dealt with. Grade 1 leaks are the most serious and will be repaired until the hazard is eliminated, Grade 2 leaks are required to be repaired within a year, and Grade 3 leaks will be reevaluated. Gas companies will also be held accountable for providing plans to remove leak-prone infrastructure.
The bill promotes strong communication between municipalities and gas companies, which will increase public safety.
A recent study stated that more than one-third of Massachusetts’ approximately 21,000 miles of gas pipeline is prone to leaks, which is environmentally detrimental, costly to customers, and can be a public safety risk.
“This legislation continues the Patrick Administration’s efforts to not only ensure public safety, but save consumers millions of dollars,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Valley Bartlett.
The bill amends the Department of Public Work’s ability to fine gas companies for violations of pipeline safety rules.
The Patrick Administration has set some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in the country, and aims to reduce GHG emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below by 2050.
“This law is an important public safety initiative which acts to both decrease gas leaks in our infrastructure, and to improve our environment by reducing greenhouse emissions through replacement of the most leak-prone pipes in our state. Additionally, the legislation encourages the expansion of natural gas distribution in our Commonwealth, which will help many households and small businesses lower their energy bills by taking advantage of a cleaner, cheaper energy source,” said Representative John Keenan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.