State Senators Tom Killion and Andy Dinniman introduced a comprehensive legislative package aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s pipeline regulatory process to improve safety at schools and in local neighborhoods and communities.
“For years, I’ve been working to protect our communities from the potential safety risks of the Mariner East pipeline project. Along the way, I’ve identified several areas that are in dire need of improvement in the Commonwealth,” Dinniman said. “These bills are a result of that ongoing effort and a necessary starting point to refocus and reenergize our efforts in the new year. I am committed to working in the spirit of bipartisanship and for the sake of Chester County residents and families to achieve real and lasting pipeline safety reform in the 2019-2020 legislative session.”
“Pipelines are transporting highly flammable and toxic materials under high pressure through densely populated areas. Having new laws in place to ensure the safety of families living in pipeline communities is long overdue,” Killion said. “I look forward to working with Senator Dinniman on passing these bills. Pipeline industry oversight and public safety are top concerns for our constituents, and I’m pleased to be partnering with him on these important issues.”
The bipartisan package consists of 12 bills, six sponsored by Dinniman and six sponsored by Killion. Both senators also serve as first prime co-sponsor of each other’s bills. They are as follows:
- Pipelines Located Near Schools (Dinniman) – Outlines types of information that pipeline operators must share with schools that fall within 1,000 ft of hazardous liquids and natural gas pipelines, including how to respond to a leak. Currently, pipeline operators are not required to provide this information. This bill was previously Senate Bill 1257 of 2018.
- Pipeline Siting Review (Dinniman) – Requires pipeline companies to submit a detailed application to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) prior to construction of a new pipeline. It also requires approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the local governing body of a county and the local emergency management organization coordinators in evaluating each metric, and at least two public hearings in each county where the construction would take place. This bill was previously Senate Bill 928 of 2017.
- Pipeline Emergency Response Fund (Dinniman) – Authorizes counties to enact an ordinance to impose a fee on all covered pipelines in the county. If the county does not enact an ordinance, each municipality in the county is authorized to impose the fee on the pipelines in the county. The funding is distributed only to those counties or municipalities based on the total distance of pipelines in each county or municipality. This bill was previously Senate Bill 929 of 2017.
- Pipeline Emergency Notification (Dinniman) – Requires public utility facilities transporting natural gas or natural gas liquids to meet with the county emergency coordinator entrusted to respond in the event of natural gas release and provide vital emergency response and evacuation information. This bill was previously Senate Bill 930 of 2017.
- Pipeline Safety Valves (Dinniman) – Calls for incorporating automatic or remote shutoff valves on pipelines that impact high consequence areas throughout Pennsylvania. This bill was previously Senate Bill 931 of 2017.
- Regulation of Land Agents (Dinniman) – Holds pipeline land agents accountable by defining their role and requiring registration with the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission. In addition, the bill calls for allowing public access to a listing of registered agents, requiring criminal history background checks, and providing the commission with the authority to revoke or suspend them for reasons such as fraud or misrepresentation. This bill was previously Senate Bill 835 of 2017.
- Pipeline Safety Inspection (Killion) – Centralizes pipeline safety inspection within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and requires PennDOT to apply to the federal government for designation as an Interstate Agent in the inspection of interstate pipelines traversing Pennsylvania. This bill is similar to Senate Bill 604 of 2017.
- Pipeline Impact Fee (Killion) – Establishes a pipeline impact fee calculated based on the acreage of linear feet plus right-of-way width of a pipeline using the county average land value in an affected area. The funds would be collected by the PUC and deposited into a Pipeline Impact Fund where they would be distributed to the counties and municipalities impacted. This bill is similar to Senate Bill 605 of 2017.
- Pipeline Safety – Notification Requirements (Killion) – Requires pipeline companies to provide notification to residents, municipalities and other applicable parties affected by drilling at least five days in advance of the initiation of any project. This bill is similar to Senate Bill 1027 of 2018.
- Pipeline Safety – Mandatory Study Requirement (Killion) – Requires pipeline operators to conduct proper studies and hydrological investigations of aquifers that may be potentially impacted by pipeline construction. This bill is similar to Senate Bill 1028 of 2018.
- Pipeline Safety and Advanced Leak Detection (Killion) – Requires Pennsylvania and the DEP to develop clear permit conditions and siting guidelines to increase the focus on pipeline safety and pipeline infrastructure siting to reduce the dangers of improper siting, improper safety management and wasted resources.
- Establishing a Commission to Study Pipeline Construction and Operations (Killion) – Establishes a special bipartisan legislative commission to recommend safety, oversight and interagency coordination improvements for the transport of oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids through pipelines in this Commonwealth. This legislation is similar to Senate Resolution 373 of 2018.