Interconnected – The Economic and Climate Change Benefits of Accelerating Repair and Replacement of America’s Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines

This report from the AFL-CIO and the BlueGreen Alliance highlights the economic and environmental benefits of repairing America's natural gas distribution systems sooner, rather than later.

July 23, 2014

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Repairing the system of distribution pipelines that deliver natural gas to homes and businesses offers an opportunity to drive significant investment in our economy. Doing so will help to fix a critical part of our aging infrastructure while creating jobs and cutting global warming pollution—a winning proposition for both the environment and the economy.

While the repair and replacement of natural gas distribution pipes is underway in many parts of the country, the nation won’t see an overhaul of the estimated 9 percent of distribution pipeline comprised of aging, leak-prone materials for three decades at the current rate of progress. This report considers an alternative, accelerated scenario whereby this rate of repair and replacement activity would be tripled—a goal not inconceivable were ideal policy and finance mechanisms in place.

The report findings include:

  • Accelerating the timeframe of pipe replacement would increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by over $37 billion by 2024, leaviing GDP $30 billion higher in that year compared to the 30-year repair and replacement schedule.
  • By the end of the 10-year replacement timeline, over 313,000 people would be employed, with nearly 250,000 more jobs created than in the 30-year repair and replacement scenario.
  • Over three decades, the accelerated 10-year scenario would save nearly $4.4 billion worth of gas. Those savings are $1.5 billion more than under the current rate of repair and replacement.
  • The faster replacement rate prevents an additional 81 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere, roughly equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road for one year.

Investing in our infrastructure is a winning proposition for consumers, the environment, and the economy as a whole. Accelerating the timeline will provide those benefits at a time when America needs them the most.

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