Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Senator Baker Introduces Legislation to Expand Regulation of Shale Gas Pipelines in Rural Pennsylvania

On October 26, 2015, Senate Bill No. 1044, sponsored by Pennsylvania Senator Lisa Baker, was referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. The main purpose of this Bill is to extend the Public Utility Commission (PUC)’s safety jurisdiction over Class 1 unconventional gathering lines located in rural areas.

Class 1 gathering lines are located in “an offshore area or any class location unit that has 10 or fewer buildings intended for human occupancy.”

PUC currently exercises its jurisdiction merely over Class 2 and 4 gathering pipelines. In her co-sponsorship memorandum, Senator Baker explained that Class 1 shale gas gathering lines in rural areas are neither regulated by the Public Utility Commission nor by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Therefore, it leaves those gathering lines without safety enforcement which “could be a risk to people, property and the environment.”

The introduced legislation provides that PUC should have “general administrative authority to supervise and regulate rural pipeline operators” as to pipeline marking, reporting of incidents, construction and maintenance standards, mapping and recordkeeping for infrastructure, leak and damage prevention, educational pipeline programs, and participation in Pennsylvania One Class System. The Bill also states that “any rural pipeline operator who violates this act shall be subject to a penalty” pursuant to section 3301(c) of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code.

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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