The Government Accountability Office has issued a report saying that most of the 240,000 miles of pipeline that ferry natural gas and oil to processing facilities and larger pipelines are not regulated by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which means they are not regularly inspected for leaks or corrosion.
The natural gas market is a boomin’ and hundreds of private natural gas companies have put in small gathering pipelines in recent years to collect new fuel supplies released through the high pressure, and highly controversial, drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. With such a fast growing market government agencies are having a hard time keeping up with the growth.
Nationwide, there are about 200,000 miles of gas gathering lines and up to 40,000 miles of hazardous liquid gathering lines in rural and urban areas alike. According to the new government report only about 24,000 of those miles are regulated.
No regulation also means that many local city officials and thus construction crews and other agencies do not even know where the gas lines are run – and since gas lines are buried, often time crews will not know they are on top of a gas line until it is too late. Dig safe!
Even more crazy is that the industry is not is not required to report pipeline related fatality, injury or property damage information about the unregulated lines. So with about 216,000 miles of unregulated lines out there, who knows how many injuries or worse have gone unreported to government agencies.
The pipeline agency is considering collecting more data on the unregulated gas gathering lines. However, the plans are still preliminary and have met with resistance from the natural gas industry.
Basically, the natural gas industry is making a lot of money and creating jobs in a bad American economy. So follow the government regulation… eh, frack it.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison