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The recent stories by David Abel on natural gas leaks highlight the importance of gas system upgrades. At the natural gas utility level, as one of Abel’s stories noted, the pace of system upgrades is increasing, with hundreds of miles of pipe in the Commonwealth being replaced each year.

Older, more leak-prone gas pipe components, such as cast iron and bare steel, are being replaced with newer, more efficient systems. This will reduce leaks and strengthen system safety. At the same time, the Massachusetts natural gas system is already showing great improvements in terms of its greenhouse gas impact.

This year, the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs secretariat released a report on greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth. In 1990, natural gas systems accounted for 2.6 percent of all state greenhouse gas emissions; by 2012, this had dropped in half, to just 1.3 percent. Over the same period, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection, methane emissions in Massachusetts dropped by 62 percent.

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This is substantial progress. More can be done, and more is being done to improve the environment. But clearly, natural gas performance is moving in the right direction.

Tom Kiley
President and CEO
Northeast Gas Association
Needham