Still, input from stakeholders, including natural gas operators, has led to compromise. One of Anchia’s bills originally called on operators to remove all cast iron, wrought iron or bare steel gas lines – which safety experts have warned about since at least the 1970s – from their Texas systems by the end of 2020.
Companies like Atmos, which still has approximately 400 miles of cast iron pipes in its system and initially said they were safe, said they would need more time to meet that goal because of a lack of available contractors to do the work. Anchia moved the deadline to the end of 2021, which operators believe they can reach, and limited the bill to only cast iron pipes.
Operators also agreed to a provision that would increase the amount of dangerous pipes, like wrought iron or bare steel, that operators would remove or replace in their systems every year, Anchia said.
Atmos has touted its investment of $3.5 billion in pipe replacement over the last 14 years and plans to rapidly increase that spending to $4.3 billion over the next five years. In a statement, the company said it is “intensely dedicated to safety and it is our highest priority.”
“We have collaborated with Rep. Anchia in his efforts to craft legislation that enhances the existing regulatory framework and encourages our ongoing plans to accelerate pipe replacement efforts in Texas,” the statement said.
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