State Lawmakers Look To Expand Natural Gas In Rural Communities

May 12, 2014

New legislation in Lansing would make it easier for utilities to expand access to natural gas in rural Michigan.

A state House panel will hold a hearing on the bills Tuesday.

As The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher reports, supporters hope it will help people keep the heat on during the winter.

A number of Michigan communities faced propane shortages during this past winter.

State Representative Aric Nesbitt chairs the House Energy and Technology Committee. He says expanding natural gas into those areas would help make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“It exacerbated the challenges and issues that we’ve seen families and farmers and small businesses have had to bear through this brutal winter,” he says.

And he says it would save people money.

The bipartisan legislation would also increase fines for companies that violate safety regulations for natural gas pipelines.

Nesbitt says the bills are not meant to promote more drilling or “fracking.”