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Ed Markey files bill to plug gas leaks

Consumers are paying heavily for wasted natural gas, a study released by Senator Edward J. Markey’s office said.

Globe photo/file 2013

Consumers are paying heavily for wasted natural gas, a study released by Senator Edward J. Markey’s office said.

Seeking to speed up the replacement of natural gas pipelines that leak and cost consumers billions in states with older infrastructure, such as Massachusetts, US Senator Edward J. Markey on Thursday filed two bills.

The first would revamp pipeline development and repair policies to address the biggest problems first while making it easier for utilities to recover those costs in the rates customers pay.

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The second would create a program to help finance such projects with federal money and a percentage of matching state funds.

“This legislation helps put people to work, protects consumers from being charged for gas they may never get, and plugs dangerous leaks that cause accidents and worsen climate change,” Markey, a Malden Democrat, said in a statement.

The bills come several months after Markey’s office released a study showing US natural gas consumers paid at least $20 billion from 2000 to 2011 for gas they never received, the fuel having been lost to leaks in aging pipelines.

Massachusetts customers alone paid $1.5 billion in that time period, the study said.

Meanwhile, Northeast Utilities and National Grid have said they support building new pipeline infrastructure to bring more natural gas into Massachusetts.

The fuel is used to heat nearly half of the homes in the state and to generate roughly two-thirds of the state’s electricity.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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