In a watershed study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), serious fault was found with the nationwide natural gas pipeline transmission and distribution network in the United States, leading to accidents causing destruction of property and loss of life. The study recommended enhanced safety efforts in way of pipeline integrity management systems for the nearly 50 year old system of 300,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines and approximately 2 million miles of gas distribution pipelines. Specifically, a broad range of improvements were recommended, including the use of in-line inspection tools, closer state-to-state and federal-state cooperation among inspectors, and a call for expanded and improved resources and guidance at the federal level. The study called for the National Pipeline Mapping System to be upgraded and cutting edge geographic information technologies to be better integrated throughout the network.
Acting NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said "effective oversight and management of these programs save lives, preserve property and protect the environment. The time (for executing pipeline integrity management programs) is now, before another tragic pipeline accident occurs."