The United States relies on natural gas for one-quarter of its energy needs. In 2001 alone, the nation consumed 21.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A large portion of natural gas pipeline capacity within the United States is directed from major production areas in Texas and Louisiana, Wyoming, and other states to markets in the western, eastern, and midwestern regions of the country. In the past 10 years, increasing levels of gas from Canada have also been brought into these markets (EIA 2007). The United States has several major natural gas production basins and an extensive natural gas pipeline network, with almost 95% of U.S. natural gas imports coming from Canada. At present, the gas pipeline infrastructure is more developed between Canada and the United States than between Mexico and the United States. Gas flows from Canada to the United States through several major pipelines feeding U.S. markets in the Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and California. Some key examples are the Alliance Pipeline, the Northern Border Pipeline, the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, the TransCanada Pipeline System, and Westcoast Energy pipelines. Major connections join Texas and northeastern Mexico, with additional connections to Arizona and between California and Baja California, Mexicomore » (INGAA 2007). Of the natural gas consumed in the United States, 85% is produced domestically. Figure 1.1-1 shows the complex North American natural gas network. The pipeline transmission system--the 'interstate highway' for natural gas--consists of 180,000 miles of high-strength steel pipe varying in diameter, normally between 30 and 36 inches in diameter. The primary function of the transmission pipeline company is to move huge amounts of natural gas thousands of miles from producing regions to local natural gas utility delivery points. These delivery points, called 'city gate stations', are usually owned by distribution companies, although some are owned by transmission companies. Compressor stations at required distances boost the pressure that is lost through friction as the gas moves through the steel pipes (EPA 2000). The natural gas system is generally described in terms of production, processing and purification, transmission and storage, and distribution (NaturalGas.org 2004b). Figure 1.1-2 shows a schematic of the system through transmission. This report focuses on the transmission pipeline, compressor stations, and city gates.« le
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