State Pipeline Safety Bill Exempts Lines In Rural Areas

From Potter County Today

pipelinePennsylvania’s legislature has approved a natural gas pipeline safety bill that regulates larger lines, while exempting smaller lines. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania has called on lawmakers to extend the rules to smaller lines, such as the majority of those being built in areas where Marcellus Shale wells are being drilled.


HB 344, sponsored by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga), grants the Public Utility Commission (PUC) jurisdiction over gas and hazardous liquid pipeline operators which are not public utilities but would fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The new PUC jurisdiction would not include Class 1 lines, which the federal government presently does not regulate based on risk data for these typically rural lines. Because of their more remote location, based on population, shale gas gathering lines are largely expected to be classified as Class 1.


PUC would also maintain a registry of all pipeline operators who are not public utilities, who must annually report to the PUC their pipeline miles in operation. While originally limited to pipelines subject to federal regulations, as above, the Senate approved an amendment containing language from SB 325 by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) to include in the registry operators of Class 1 lines transporting gas from unconventional wells and the location of those lines.


While in the Senate, HB 344 was also amended to require planting of trees in other areas of the county or municipality if trees were removed in constructing a pipeline on state forest or game lands.


“We support further extension of PUC oversight to Class 1 gathering lines in the shale regions, and encourage the General Assembly to continue discussions on this issue to ensure the maximum level of public safety,” CCAP said in a news release.


(Photo courtesy Potter County Conservation District)

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.

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