As part of its rollout of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation seeks applicants for an estimated $196 million in grants to repair and upgrade natural gas pipelines.

DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a June 18 statement that the grants, which will draw on fiscal year 2024 funds, will cover such work as "repairing and replacing corroded and outdated natural gas pipes that in some instances have been underground for over a century."

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a DOT agency that is in charge of the pipeline grant program, said the selected projects also will reduce the risk of methane leakage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says methane is "more than 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere."

Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown said that the first-of-its-kind program will save lives and ensure "work that would otherwise take decades is completed in a matter of years."

The infrastructure law provides a total of $1 billion over five years for the grants, which are from the Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Program, through which DOT has awarded about $600 million to date.

Municipal or community-owned utilities are eligible for the grants, except for-profit organizations. Funds will focus on "high-risk, leak-prone natural gas distribution infrastructure," said the pipeline agency.

Its May 9 notice formally opening the new round of grant applications said that the maximum grant would be $125 million and the minimum grant would be $10,000.

The deadline for applications is June 20, the agency said.