HARRISBURG (June 19, 2019) – Protecting the residents of communities affected by natural gas pipelines is the focus of two bipartisan pieces of legislation introduced by state Senators Andy Dinniman and Tom Killion overwhelmingly approved earlier today by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.
“Keeping residents safe and protecting their homes and property is not a partisan issue,” said Killion. “Our bills are designed to protect the communities affected by these pipelines, and I’m happy to work with any of my colleagues who share that priority.”
Killion’s legislation, Senate Bill 284, would mandate pipeline operators provide current Emergency Response Plans to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) which could be responsibly and confidentially shared with county emergency services agencies for the purpose of coordinating a response to a pipeline incident. Recent news stories have reported that approximately 95 percent of an emergency management plan recently submitted to Chester County by Energy Transfer Partners for its Mariner East II pipeline was redacted.
“There must be no bureaucratic barrier between those responsible for county emergency services and the information they need to ensure our first responders are following through on effective and well-informed plans to keep our communities in Pennsylvania safe,” said Killion.
Dinniman’s legislation, Senate Bill 258, calls for requiring pipeline operators to meet annually with county emergency management officials to provide, at minimum, vital and specific pipeline safety information, including identification of facilities, products and pressure transported, emergency contact information for the operator, and information on how to recognize, report, and respond to a product release.
Currently, they are not required to do so.
“These two bills work hand-in-hand to better protect our communities by ensuring that emergency response officials have the accurate and up-to-date information they need to adequately respond to a pipeline rupture and potentially avert disaster and save lives,” Dinniman said.
In addition, Senate Bill 258 allows county emergency management officials to share that information with nearby entities, such as hospitals, prisons, schools, day-care facilities, and retirement or assisted living facilities.
Killion and Dinniman expressed their thanks to Senator Robert M. Tomlinson, Chair of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for scheduling these bills for consideration by the committee and the Minority Chair, Senator Lisa M. Boscola. They also pledged to continue to work on these important pieces of legislation with their colleagues who raised valid and important questions during committee deliberations. The bills now go to the full Senate.
“Pipeline safety benefits everyone. I’d hope that all pipeline companies would willingly partner with our communities to better ensure strong safety precautions and emergency response plans. For those that won’t or don’t, these bills represent a major step forward in making that law,” Dinniman said.