PA Senate Passes Bill Enforcing Fed Standards on Pipelines

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania State Senate have approved a bill that would direct PA utility inspectors to use federal safety standards with most new shale gas gathering pipelines in the state. The measure now goes to the PA House for consideration.

Pennsylvania is one of two natural-gas-producing states that do not [currently] enforce [federal] safety rules.

The bill would cover many, but not all, types of the gathering lines. Lines built in the most rural areas would remain uninspected by the government, although they would still require federal, state or local permits to cross wetlands, streams and roads.

Companies are expected to build thousands of miles of smaller pipelines to ferry gas from producing Marcellus Shale well sites in Pennsylvania to larger, interstate pipelines.*

*AP/Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin (Dec 13, 2011) – Pa. Senate OKs gas pipeline safety bill

  • Meryl Solar

    Well, this really means nothing!  Isn’t it true that almost ALL of the new pipelines that will be placed throughout PA for the Marcellus wells will be in these rural (Class 1) areas and not covered by this plan?  To me, this seems like a weak attempt to appear as though our PA Lawmakers are doing something to protect the residents, while still doing nothing.  Without more complete regulation and oversight required for ALL new gas pipelines in ALL areas, this plan to “enforce federal standards” is nothing more than a talking point.  There are thousands of us living in these Class 1 rural areas with families and small children, and pipelines will soon be appearing in our backyards.  Are we supposed to just be part of this “necessary sacrifice” that I keep hearing about? Shame on our PA lawmakers! We really need a bit more accountability here.

  • Anonymous

    I’m in the industry and I agree with Meryl. I work for one of the old, large companies that has survived and proven itself through the test of time. Many of these smaller or relatively new gas companies are trying to get their work done cheap with new, inexperienced companies who boast cheap prices  from inexperience and a nonunion workforce. For example, most gathering lines have a 10% X Ray test of the welds. CNX had a job this summer contracted to a small unknown company from out west. That contractor had a 90% of the 10% repair or failed weld rate! CNX kicked the contractor off the job, but hired another one exactly in the same category. Our normal work is mainline (which has a 100% X Ray code), not gathering and are always under the microscope, deservedly so. Our repair rate on our last job (100+ miles of 30″) was 1.78%. Is it the small contractor’s fault for trying to get by with a cheap, unprofessional workforce, or CNX’s management’s fault for hiring the cheapest bidder?????

    You always get what you pay for!

  • Anonymous

    Another good question and point is, how many people really know how a pipeline is constructed? What are safe construction practices, how should environmentally sensitive areas truly be handled, and what construction practices add to the safe longevity of a pipeline? How would politicians and a big majority of posters on  many of these websites
    truthfully answer these questions, their knowledge comes from media hype and speculation.

  • Anonymous

    You can check out the full article at Powerful pipes, weak oversight

  • Anonymous

    Worknman , I have read most of your posts and come to respect your knowledge and opinions on the gas drilling industry . Please enlighten me some. From your posts I understand there are Union and Non-Union companies bidding for the same work in PA? How is this possible? Is PA allowing non-Union companies to enter PA and bid on these projects against Union companies?  

  • Anonymous

    My experience and knowledge comes from working in the pipeline industry building the infrastructure after the initial drilling has been completed.

    The more prominent, successful, and aged gas companies have predominately used contractors belonging to the Pipe Line Contractors Association. The PLCA has always carried a contract with the 4 union crafts of Operating Engineers, United Association (welders), Laborers International, and the Brotherhood of Teamsters. All of these crafts send their members through training schools and have documented “on the job” experience. The more professional a workforce, the more professional a project is constructed.

    If you research many of the gas companies involved in the shale plays in Pennsylvania, you’ll find many haven’t been in business that long and are trying to capitalize on profits through any means neccessary.

    Several of these “newbies” are trying the cheaper looking non union construction contractors. Please read the article I listed in the Philadelphia Enquirer and tell me how cheap it was to either replace all the welds made by that contractor or risk safety and environmental disaster.

    Another HUGE complaint is the “out of state workers”. If a project is awarded to a union contractor the agreement states a 50-50 ratio to company hired “key” workers and local dispatched workers. If it goes to a non union contractor, they can import 100% of their workforce.You hear the “no one can pass the drug test”, we pay enough to get the professionals with a fair wage, health insurance, and a pension. All the little roadside signs reading “$10 an hour, help wanted”, they can’t find anybody at that wage to pass the test. 

    I’m in the industry and recognize the potential dangers to the public and our environment. Pipelines can be built with public safety and environmental responsibility, but it takes a teamwork of the gas company and construction contractor to put those responsibilities above profit.

    Walk the walk, not just talk the talk!

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