Natural gas contains some small traces of sulfur. This sulfur interacts with the copper to produce copper sulfide, which is a black, crystalline substance that forms along the interior of the copper pipes. This copper sulfide can be a huge detriment to any system, since it creates a pipe blockage that is never good when you have a system under pressure.
As the interaction of the copper pipe and the sulfur is forming the copper sulfide, the copper comes out of the piping. This weakens the pipe, as the copper is being drawn out of the pipe and into the copper sulfide crystals.
As the pipe fills up with copper sulfide the pressure grows steadily higher. This isn't good, especially because a natural gas pipe system is already under pressure. With the weakening of the copper pipe and the creation of a larger and larger block it can lead to a rupture of the pipe. Additionally the crystals can grow over any sort of stopgap mechanism that keeps the natural gas from flowing out when the pilot light isn't lit.