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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: August 17, 2021 06:09 PM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pipeline Early Detection & Warning Systems
In the near future, I will be offering companion legislation to State Representative Otten’s HB1364 (formerly HB 1735).

Title 35 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes requires “every school district and custodial child care facility, in cooperation with the local Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency,” to “develop and implement a comprehensive disaster response and emergency preparedness plan consistent with the guidelines developed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and other pertinent State requirements.”

But as Mariner East and other pipelines have brought new and unmitigated risks to our communities across the state, they have left our municipalities, school districts, and emergency responders without any reliable means of monitoring pipelines for leaks or alerting communities of pipeline incidents, leaving these local government entities unable to fulfill these statutory emergency preparedness requirements. In addition, the cost of mitigating pipeline risks currently falls on taxpayers, local municipalities, and county governments.   

This legislation establishes a Pipeline Early Detection and Warning Board; empowers this board to collect fees from pipeline operators; uses those fees to establish the Pipeline Early Detection and Warning Fund; and distributes money from this fund in the form of grants to municipalities, school districts, or county governments for the development of Early Detection and Warning Systems, which will alert communities and emergency responders and mitigate risks of a pipeline incident. 

In an April 2021 ruling for the PUC, administrative law judge Elizabeth Barnes cited HB 1735 as a potential remedy for school districts in the path of one or more pipelines, noting that “HB 1735…would provide standards and a fee-generated funding mechanism to cover the cost of real-time leak detection systems that communicate directly with the appropriate first responders.” 

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation, which properly places the costs of early detection and warning systems on pipeline operators rather than taxpayers and ensures that warning systems are in place prior to pipeline operation or product change, allowing our municipalities, school districts, and emergency responders to develop emergency response plans and fulfill their statutory requirements under Title 35.