President Obama and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have declared November to be National Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month to “reflect on the important role our infrastructure plays in building a safe and prosperous Nation,” and to “recommit to strengthening and protecting these important assets.”
Comprising more than 2.4 million miles of pipelines throughout the United States, the nation’s natural gas delivery system is robust, extensive and resilient. It is a vital component of America’s critical infrastructure. Every day, more than 177 million Americans depend on the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas to run hospitals, schools and industrial facilities, heat and cool their homes and businesses, cook their meals, wash and dry clothes and fulfill many other essential needs. The men and women of the more than 200 local natural gas delivery companies that make up AGA’s membership work vigilantly to monitor, maintain and strengthen natural gas infrastructure to help ensure that natural gas can be safely and reliably delivered to the homes and businesses that depend on it for daily life, and to mitigate interruptions from storms and other severe weather conditions, physical and cyber threats and other disruptions.
Natural gas utilities are consistently upgrading and modernizing existing infrastructure to help ensure safety and reliability. In addition to continued infrastructure investment, AGA and its member companies have a number of programs in place to draw on the resources and expertise of natural gas utilities nationwide to help ensure that utilities can plan, prepare and respond to threats to security and energy delivery.
During extreme weather events or other disaster scenarios, natural gas utilities can call on the AGA Mutual Assistance Program to reach out to other utilities throughout the nation for additional crews, resources and support. This program sent more than 400 personnel to help New Jersey utilities prepare and respond during 2011’s Hurricane Sandy, assisting those affected and restoring service to the homes and businesses impacted by the storm.
Threat Information Sharing
Natural gas utilities also work to enhance the security of natural gas operations against cyber threats that could result in service disruption, financial, property or information loss, or even injury or loss of life. In October 2014, AGA launched the Downstream Natural Gas Information Sharing Analysis Center, which allows natural gas utilities to access and share the information they need to understand cyber threats, protect their systems and customers and respond.
How You Can Help
We all have a part to play in natural gas safety and in protecting ourselves and critical infrastructure from security threats. As customers or members of communities where natural gas is used, you can help by:
- Making sure natural gas appliances and fuel lines are properly maintained
- Reporting the smell of natural gas immediately to your local natural gas utility
- Calling 811 before any digging or excavation project to make sure utility lines are marked and you can avoid damaging them
- Paying attention to safety communications from your local utility
- Reporting suspicious activities to your local law enforcement officials
- Engaging in smart online behavior and password protection to defend yourself and others from cyber intrusions or attacks. Learn more about cybersecurity at staysafeonline.org.