Clean Infrastructure

Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure

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Accelerating the repair of approximately 100,000 miles of leak-prone distribution pipeline to 10 years could create more than 300,000 good, family-supporting jobs across the economy, save consumers $1.5 billion in charges for lost gas, and prevent methane emissions.

The Challenge

America’s natural gas distribution pipeline system is a network of more than one million miles of pipe—pipe underneath our cities and towns that supply energy to homes and businesses. Significant portions of this network were constructed during the 1930’s or earlier, and it’s estimated up to 10 percent is made of leak-prone materials.

Methane—the primary component of natural gas—is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. Repairing and replacing leak-prone pipelines will reduce emissions and has the potential to create quality, family-sustaining jobs.

Providers have made strides fixing the problems, which resulted from corrosion, mechanical failure, control system failure, accidental or third party disruptions and excavations, and natural forces like temperature swings, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. But upgrading leak-prone pipes could take 30 years or longer.

The Opportunity

Accelerating the rate of repair to 10 years could create more than 300,000 good, family-supporting jobs across the economy, save consumers $1.5 billion in charges for lost gas, and prevent the emission of 81 million metric tons of climate change pollution—the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road for a year. In addition, such investment would result in an increase in GDP $30 billion over ten years, compared to business as usual.

Large-scale investment will allow us to modernize our natural gas pipeline network and accelerate current efforts to repair America’s pipelines—enhancing system reliability and ensuring customers pay for the gas they actually use while creating and sustaining hundreds of thousands of new direct and indirect jobs, reducing the release of methane, and strengthening the economy by expanding the market for pipe manufacturing, fabrication, installation and operations.

Repairing Our Cities’ Aging Pipelines (RECAP)—our campaign to promote innovative financing approaches needed to make necessary upgrades and “keep gas in the system”—has already helped secure victories in several states to accelerate and fund repairs to natural gas distribution systems in Illinois and California.

Key Facts

10% Estimated amount of more than 1 million miles of natural gas distribution pipelines are that are made of leak-prone materials. (Source)

300,000 Number of jobs that could be created or sustained economy-wide if the 30-year timeline for pipeline repair and replacement was accelerated to 10 years. (Source)

$30 billion Amount higher the national GDP could be over 10 years under an accelerated timeline. (Source)


Natural gas distribution pipe meter.

In California, the BlueGreen Alliance worked with labor unions and environmental organizations to help enact SB 1371, which compels the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to improve leak identification, repair, and avoidance, as well as better account for the climate change impact of natural gas leaks in the state’s natural gas distribution systems.

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