Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bill Adding Natural Gas Gathering Pipelines To PA One Call OK’d By Senate Committee

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee Tuesday approved without changes Senate Bill 242 (Baker-R-Luzerne) which adds natural gas gathering lines to the PA One Call utility construction safety program so they can be identified and mapped for emergency services (sponsor summary).
Sen. Baker noted in a background memo on the bill there are more than 6,000 incidents of striking utility lines every year, with approximately half involving natural gas lines because facility owners do not join the PA One Call program or for other reasons.
“All of these instances jeopardize public safety, place workers at risk, compromise infrastructure, trigger outages, generate environmental hazards and cost consumers, businesses, and utilities time and money,” said Sen. Baker.  “Preventing this unnecessary damage will increase public safety and reduce costs.”
This issue must be dealt with again this year because Senate Bill 1235 only authorized an extension of the entire PA One Call program until the end of 2017.
There are 60,000 to 100,000 miles of natural gas gathering lines in 33 counties, according to testimony presented at a hearing by the Senate and House Emergency Preparedness and Veterans Affairs Committees in November.
The Public Utility Commission, PA One Call and UGI Energy Services are recommended gathering lines be regulated for safety and mapped for emergency services during the hearing.
A similar effort failed last year when the House stripped the provision from Senate Bill 1235, also sponsored by Sen. Baker, after stiff opposition from conventional oil and gas drillers.
The bill is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

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