LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The first $196 million in grants for a $1 billion federal program to repair and replace aging, sometimes leaking natural gas pipelines across the county were announced Wednesday.
The Transportation Department and its Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced that the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, will get $10 million as the first grant recipient. Nineteen other communities will also get grants to help upgrade 270 miles (435 kilometer) of natural gas pipelines in 19 different states, although the government didn’t identify all the recipients.
Another nearly $400 million of grants will be announced later this year.
The grants, announced by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, will be paid for with money from the infrastructure law President Joe Biden’s administration is touting in a series of events across the country.
“This funding to modernize our gas pipelines will help protect residents from dangerous leaks, create good-paying jobs, and reduce methane emissions in communities across the nation, particularly in rural and underserved areas,” Buttigieg said.
Several of the pipelines that will be repaired or replaced were installed decades ago, and some of them are leaking. Officials estimate that completing these repairs will help reduce methane emissions by roughly 212 metric tons a year.
Aging pipelines have been involved in fatal explosions and massive spills that have occurred over decades in California, Michigan, New Jersey and other states.
“Investments in pipeline safety are investments in community safety and our shared environment,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown.