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LaHood Salutes Local Utilities Moving Quickly To Replace Old Gas Lines

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Nothing is more terrifying than an unexpected gas line explosion - like those that occurred last year in San Bruno, Calif., and Allentown, Pa.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Pittsburgh Friday to praise local utilities that are moving quickly to replace old gas lines with new ones.

"We met with the industry and asked them to take a look at their pipelines around the country, and take a look at what they could do to replace those pipelines," LaHood told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Getting special recognition from LaHood and local officials was NiSource, parent company of Columbia Gas.

"They didn't just listen to us, they didn't pay lip service. What they're doing today is replacing aging pipelines," LaHood told the crowd.

In Pennsylvania alone, NiSource expects to spend $400 million a year for the next five years, and that could result in more than 1,000 jobs.

Pipeline Safety Administrator Cynthia Quarterman said the Obama Administration will expedite environmental approvals for new gas pipelines.

"We stand ready to work hand in hand with NiSource and assist the Secretary in identifying opportunities to cut through the red tape in the federal government and move this project through as quickly as possible."

And it's a win for local steel jobs, too, says Chad Zamorin of NiSource.

"We use plastic in our smaller-diameter, lower-pressure pipelines, but for the larger-diameter, higher-pressure pipes, steel is still the material of choice," Zamorin said. "It's strength and capability is still unmatched."

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