Obscure Committee with Power Over PA Gathering Pipes Staffing Up

An obscure committee of individuals will begin to wield big power over Pennsylvania’s natural gas (and oil) gathering pipelines beginning next year. In just about every state in the country, before you start digging a hole in the ground for some reason (water well, septic system, laying an underground electric line, etc.)–the first thing you do is call 811 or some similar phone number. The “one call” or “first call” reaches a state-authorized (not necessarily state-run) office where they have, on file, maps detailing any kind of underground cables, pipelines and other infrastructure. If such underground structures exist, a representative of the owner for the underground line will, if necessary, stop by and mark the areas so when you do begin digging, you don’t hit it. Makes sense. A bill introduced last year (in 2016) in the Pennsylvania legislature “enhances” the existing 811 law in PA. One of the “enhancements” is that it removes an exclusion for low-pressure natural gas gathering pipelines from being required to be part of the 811 system, mainly lines run to low-producing conventional gas wells. The bill was opposed by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (see PIOGA Opposes Bill to Regulate Unregulated PA Gathering Pipelines). The bill was reintroduced in March of this year (see PA State Senator Introduces Bill to Regulate Gathering Pipelines). Once again PIOGA pushed back, and in June a compromise was reached to exclude pipelines running to “stripper wells”–i.e. low-producing conventional wells. With that compromise in place, both the PA Senate and House have voted to adopt the plan and it was signed into law (see Shale + Large Conventional Gathering Pipes Added to PA One Call). The PA Public Utility Commission is the state agency charged with oversight of the enhanced 811 system. The PUC announced yesterday it is looking for nominations of individuals to sit on the utility and pipeline Damage Prevention Committee (DPC). We spotted this note about the power of this small group of people: “The DPC will meet regularly to review alleged violations of the Act and make determinations as to the appropriate response including, but not limited to, the issuance of warning letters or administrative penalties.” Sounds to us like this obscure committee now holds great power over PA’s gathering pipeline infrastructure…

Please Login to view this content. (Not a member? Join Today!)
You do not have permission to view the comments.

Please Login to post a comment