Federal Pipeline Agencies Accepting Applications for Pipeline Safety Program

(PG&J) — The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has begun accepting applications for its new Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant program, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Tuesday.

The grant program was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden last November. The program offers nearly $200 million in grants annually over the next five years to improve the safety of high-risk, leak-prone natural gas distribution infrastructure and create good-paying jobs, with an emphasis on benefiting underserved communities, in both rural and urban areas. 

“We’re announcing new funding today to help communities of all sizes make their natural gas pipelines safer, create good jobs, and reduce the risks to residents, businesses, and our environment from dangerous accidents or leaks,” Buttigieg said. “This funding became available through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which we are hard at work implementing across every area of our Department's responsibility.”

The funding opportunity announced today is open to all municipal or community-owned utilities (excluding for-profit entities) seeking assistance in repairing, rehabilitating, or replacing high-risk, leak-prone natural gas distribution infrastructure. Funds can also be used to acquire equipment that will assist in reducing natural gas distribution pipeline incidents and fatalities, as well as to avoid economic loss from leaks. 

“These grants will help communities upgrade piping that in some cases is older than any American alive today,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “All eligible entities are encouraged to apply, with a focus on projects that will have the greatest benefits for the communities that need the most support.”

In 1991, after a review of prior fatalities and serious incidents involving legacy cast iron distribution pipes, the National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations for PHMSA to require pipeline operators to implement a program to identify and replace high-risk cast iron pipelines.

Subsequently, PHMSA worked with states and local gas distribution entities to require the development and deployment of plans to phase out high-risk, legacy piping. These efforts resulted in the upgrading of tens of thousands of miles of high-risk piping—but thousands of miles of such pipe remain. Over the last decade, serious pipeline accidents in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, Michigan, Alabama, New York, and New Jersey have all involved legacy cast iron.

In its consideration of grant applications, PHMSA will consider important safety factors, including projects that involve the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of legacy cast iron, bare steel, and legacy plastic gas distribution pipelines.

Collectively, these projects will reduce the risk of leakage, help protect the environment, create jobs, provide positive economic impact and growth, and benefit disadvantaged rural and urban communities.

Final award selections will take into consideration a project’s economic benefit to disadvantaged rural or urban communities, the quality and number of applications received, the dollar amounts requested, as well as other factors as listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. 

To obtain full eligibility requirements and application instructions, please read the official NOFO on Grants.gov or visit PHMSA’s Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grants page.

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