HARRISBURG – April 24, 2018 – Three bills introduced by State Senator Andy Dinniman to improve pipeline safety and protect local property rights were overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee today.

“This is an important step forward in our work to pass commonsense legislation to better protect residents, families, and property rights from the growing network of highly volatile natural gas pipelines crisscrossing our region,” Dinniman said. “If Pennsylvania is to fully realize the benefits of Marcellus Shale drilling, then citizens who are impacted by the potential threats of pipelines deserve to know that key protections are in place to ensure that their health, safety, well-being, and property rights are accounted for.

“It was a pleasure to work with State Senator John Rafferty in both drafting these bills and working to get them through the committee process. This is an important issue in southeastern Pennsylvania and I appreciate his ongoing partnership,” Dinniman added.

Rafferty, who also represents areas impacted by Sunoco’s Mariner East II pipeline in Chester County, served as a co-sponsor and supporter of the bills.

“I am pleased that we were able to move all three measures to ensure the pipeline industry advances safer standards and interacts more effectively with our communities,” said Rafferty, a member of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.  “I look forward to working with Senator Dinniman to advance these bills and other pipeline legislation.  We must send a strong message, on behalf of our constituents, that the pipeline industry must improve their management practices for the betterment of this Commonwealth.”

The vote comes after a joint hearing of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and Environmental Resources and Energy Committees earlier this spring that highlighted the need for stronger pipeline safety laws in Pennsylvania.

The bills are as follows:

Senate Bill 930 requires public utility facilities transporting natural gas or natural gas liquids meet with the county emergency coordinator entrusted to respond in the event of natural gas release and provide, at a minimum, the following:

  • Identification of any high consequence areas along the pipeline route and the potential impact radius located within the jurisdictional limits of the local emergency management organization.
  • The public utility’s’ current emergency operating procedures.

Although current state law prohibits the PUC from sharing specific information related to public utilities, the law does not prevent the company itself from providing such information directly to emergency response officials.

Senate Bill 931 calls for incorporating automatic or remote shutoff valves on pipelines in high consequence areas throughout Pennsylvania to better protect the public and prevent potential emergencies. In addition, this legislation calls for pipeline companies to test the reliability of shutoff valves annually, provide the results of these tests to the local municipality, and impose penalties for non-compliance.

Senate Bill 835 calls for holding 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. Currently, land agents in other states, including Texas and North Carolina, have similar laws in place.

The committee voted to approve Senate Bill 930 by a 12-2 vote, Senate Bill 931 by a 13-1 vote, and Senate Bill 835 by a unanimous vote.

“We have come a long way in building a consensus of bipartisan support for these bills and the next step is passage before the full Senate,” Dinniman said.

 

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