STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION
Assemblyman TIM EUSTACE
District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)
Requires natural gas pipeline utilities to repair or replace leaking natural gas pipelines.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.
An Act concerning the repair and replacement of natural gas pipelines, and supplementing P.L.1954, c.212 (C.26:2C-1 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. In addition to the requirements concerning the repair and replacement of natural gas pipelines adopted by the Board of Public Utilities pursuant to the “Natural Gas Safety Act,” P.L.1952, c.166 (C.48:10-2 et seq.), a natural gas pipeline utility shall repair or replace, as appropriate, any pipeline that leaks natural gas, within the time frame established by the department pursuant to subsection b. of this section.
b. Within 180 days after the effective date of this act, the department, in consultation with the Board of Public Utilities, shall adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of this act, including rules and regulations establishing: (1) inspection and reporting requirements; (2) prioritized time frames for the repair and replacement of pipelines based on the severity of leaks, not to exceed one year; (3) best practices and repair standards; and (4) de minimis exceptions to the requirements of subsection a. of this section.
c. A natural gas pipeline utility that violates the provisions of subsection a. of this section or any rule or regulation adopted by the department pursuant to subsection b. of this section shall be subject to the penalty provisions of section 19 of P.L.1954, c.212 (C.26:2C-19).
d. As used in this section:
“Natural gas pipeline utility” means the same as the term is defined in section 2 of P.L.1952, c.166 (C.48:10-3).
“Pipeline” means the same as the term is defined in section 2 of P.L.1952, c.166 (C.48:10-3).
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would require natural gas pipeline utilities to repair or replace pipelines that leak natural gas, within time frames to be established by the Department of Environmental Protection. Under the bill, the department, in consultation with the Board of Public Utilities, would be required to adopt implementing regulations, including those establishing inspection and reporting requirements, prioritized time frames for the repair and replacement of pipelines based on the severity of leaks, best practices and repair standards, and de minimis exceptions to the repair and replacement requirements. A natural gas pipeline utility that fails to comply with these requirements would be subject to the penalties set forth in the “Air Pollution Control Act (1954),” including a civil fine of up to $10,000 for the first offense, $25,000 for the second offense, and $50,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
Methane, the primary component in natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, methane is 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane accounts for nine percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, making it the second most prevalent greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. Over 60 percent of total methane emissions come from human activities such as industry, agriculture, and waste management. Of these activities, natural gas and petroleum systems are the second-largest source, representing 29 percent of all methane emissions from human activity. Several reports have shown that leaking natural gas pipelines are a major source of methane emissions.
To date, State and federal laws and regulations pertaining to natural gas pipelines have focused primarily on health and safety – not on the environment. This bill would address the climate change impacts from natural gas pipeline leaks by requiring gas utilities to repair or replace leaking pipelines, and giving the department enforcement authority under the “Air Pollution Control Act.”