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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 19, 2014 12:22 PM
From: Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pipeline Safety Inspection
In the near future, I will re-introduce legislation (SB 1503) aimed at improving pipeline safety in Pennsylvania.

The bill accomplishes two objectives. First, it will centralize pipeline safety inspection within PennDOT, Pennsylvania’s lateral regulatory agency to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Second, PennDOT will be required to make application to the Federal government for designation as an Interstate Agent in the inspection of interstate pipelines traversing Pennsylvania.

While the PUC staff currently charged with conducting safety inspections of Pennsylvania’s intrastate pipelines do an admirable job, my view is that PennDOT is better suited to oversee this type of public safety stewardship.

Interstate Agent status for safety inspection of interstate pipelines will provide a number of benefits to Pennsylvania. Most importantly, inspection agents located on the ground in Pennsylvania will develop better working relationships with our local emergency services providers. Even the most professional and dedicated federal regulator cannot duplicate the ability of Pennsylvania inspectors to coordinate with our front line responders. Further, this will provide standardization in spill response planning. There should be no difference in such planning simply because a pipeline is interstate as opposed to intrastate.

Eight states currently serve as PHMSA designated Interstate Agents: Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Washington. PHMSA already reimburses most of Pennsylvania’s inspection costs for intrastate pipelines. Reimbursement is also available for interstate inspection.

Introduced as SB561