PHMSA Funds Gas Pipeline Rehab Projects

TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2024


U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, recently unveiled $392 million in grant funding for 130 projects focused on fixing aging natural gas pipelines in 26 states.

The funding is reportedly part of the Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization (NGDISM) grant program, which was authorized by President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law to provide around $1 billion for projects that work to modernize gas distribution pipes.  

“Gas pipeline leaks are dangerous, harm the environment, and cost families more on their bills, which is why President Biden created the first program of its kind to help communities fix aging gas pipelines,” said Buttigieg. 

“Today, we’re proud to award $392 million to help 130 projects—from Texas to Nebraska to Pennsylvania—modernize their gas pipelines to keep people safe, keep energy costs down, and keep methane out of our air.”

According to the release, DOT officials began announcing grant funding to over 65 communities at the time of the announcement on April 3. The events began in North Carolina last week, where PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown awarded grants totaling:

  • $5.4 million to the City of Rocky Mount to replace 9.8 miles of natural gas pipelines, reduce up to 11 metric tons of methane annually and help create 53 jobs; and
  • $3.1 million to the City of Wilson to replace 2,200 actively leaking tapping tees to reduce environmental impacts related to methane releases and safety risks to the public.

The PHMSA also reportedly planned to make additional announcements in the coming weeks for all grant recipients, adding that it would be posting the full list of selections to its website.

“This first-of-its-kind infrastructure grant program is both making communities safer and helping those rural and urban communities most in need, save money on their energy bills,” said Brown. “We are helping communities that are still relying on pipes from the 1800s modernize their systems and reduce emissions of harmful pollution.”

The administration says that the first year of the program garnered about $1.8 billion worth of applications for the first $200 million in grants that were available.

This new round of grant selections reportedly combined funding for fiscal years 2023 and 2024, with awards to support the 130 projects in disadvantaged communities, including underserved rural and urban communities.

Grant funding recipients will reportedly repair, rehabilitate or replace around 500 miles of pipe, working towards a reduction of almost 1,400 metric tons of methane pollution emissions annually, or the equivalent of taking about 10,000 vehicles off the road.

The projects are expected to help advance the Biden Administration’s U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, using any available tool to reduce methane emissions, promote innovation in new technologies, reduce inefficiency and waste and support good-paying jobs.

In the development of this infrastructure grant program, the PHMSA also reportedly built a new tool for applicants to help with the federal environmental review process for projects, providing efficiencies for applicants and speeding up needed repairs to help reduce environmental impacts.

Previous Investments

In September of last year, the PHMSA announced the award of $14.8 million in grants to fund projects that improve pipeline safety.

The grants would reportedly support important pipeline safety training and educational programs, as well as the advancement of pipeline safety technologies.

PHMSA planned to award grants for five of its programs across the country, including:

  • $1.1 million in One-Call Grants to provide funding to state agencies in promoting damage prevention, including changes with their state underground damage prevention laws, related compliance activities, training, and public education;
  • $1.5 million in State Damage Prevention Program Grants for states to establish or improve state programs designed to prevent damage to underground pipelines;
  • $2 million in Technical Assistance Grants to local communities and groups of individuals (not including for-profit entities) for technical assistance related to pipeline safety. Technical assistance is defined as engineering or other scientific analysis of pipeline safety issues;
  • $4.3 million of Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP) funding to six collegiate institutions including Texas A&M University, University of Akron, Rutgers University, Arizona State University, Marquette University, and University of Miami. The CAAP grants will support research aimed at improving the safety of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and particularly older, higher risk pipelines by improving pipeline coatings and advancing our understanding of the risks associated with geographic proximities to pipeline incidents; and
  • $5.8 million in Pipeline Emergency Response Grants for incident response activities related to the transportation of gas or hazardous liquids by pipelines. This award is critical to ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials by training emergency responders to respond to pipeline incidents.

According to the administration, the grants were part of the bipartisan Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020. The funding was in addition to the $64.4 million that PHMSA awarded to support state-pipeline and underground natural gas storage safety operations earlier that same year.

Additionally, a month before that the PHMSA proposed a new rulemaking to strengthen safety requirements for millions of miles of gas distribution pipelines. These changes reportedly aimed to improve safety and mitigate risk through the improvement of emergency response plans, integrity management plans, operation manuals and more.

According to the administration, major pieces of the proposal included:

  • Improving construction procedures designed to minimize the risk of incidents caused by system over-pressurization;
  • Updating Distribution Integrity Management Programs to cover and prepare for over-pressurization incidents;
  • Requiring new regulator stations to be designed with secondary pressure relief valves and remote gas monitoring, to better prepare gas distribution systems to avoid over pressurizations, and limit damage during incidents; and
  • Strengthening emergency response plans for gas pipeline emergencies, including requirements for operators to contact local emergency responders and keep customers and the affected public informed of what to do in the event of an emergency.

The rule reportedly built on other national and international actions advanced by Congress and the Biden Administration to reduce methane emissions, including the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan and the $1 billion Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization grant program.

   

Tagged categories: Air pollution control; Air quality; Department of Transportation (DOT); Emissions; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Funding; Government; Grants; Green Infrastructure; Greenhouse gas; Health & Safety; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Ongoing projects; PHMSA; Pipeline; Pipelines; Pipes; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Sustainability

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