On February 18, 2016, the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force released its final report to the governor. The task force was created to identify “best practices for pipeline siting, permitting, and safety.” The task force was made up of 48 members with more than 100 additional volunteers serving in 12 different workgroups. The workgroups represented different constituencies in Pennsylvania that will be affected by construction of additional pipeline infrastructure. The workgroups represented interests ranging from agricultural to local government.
The task force focused on creating recommendations that could help meet six overarching goals: (1) “amplify and engage in meaningful public participation” (2) “develop long-term operations and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity” (3) “employ construction methods that reduce environmental and community impact” (4) “maximize opportunities for predictable and efficient permitting” (5) “plan, site, and route pipelines in ways to avoid or reduce environmental and community impacts” (6) “enhance workforce/economic development.” The task force developed 184 recommendations and identified the top two recommendations for each category.
For the public participation goal, the task force recommended establishment of “early coordination with local landowners and lessors” and education of “landowners on pipeline development issues.” The pipeline safety and integrity recommendations were to “train emergency responders” and “enhance emergency response training for responder agencies.” The environmental impact recommendations were to “minimize impacts of stream crossings” and use “best available combination of technologies to protect exception value and high quality waters.” The permitting recommendations were to “ensure adequate agency staffing for reviewing the pipeline infrastructure projects” and “implement electronic permit submissions for chapters 102 and 105” (water obstruction and encroachment permits and erosion and sediment control permits, respectively). The avoidance of environmental and community impacts recommendations were to “expand PA1Call for all classes of pipelines” and “identify barriers to sharing rights-of-ways.” The workforce/economic development recommendations included “attract military veterans to the energy workforce” and “enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.”
Written by - Stephen Kenney
Center for Agricultural and Shale Law