Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Develops Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force

Every gas well must have a pipeline connecting it to the natural gas market. Without pipelines, natural gas will never reach its intended consumers. Unfortunately, there are a number of roadblocks in the development of natural gas infrastructure preventing natural gas from reaching its intended market. In response to these roadblocks, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf, through the Pennsylvania Department of Energy, has created the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force (“PITF”).

PITF has issued a draft report to define a series of best practices and recommendations on pipeline infrastructure development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The PITF is composed of 48 individual stakeholders in pipeline development, including members of federal agencies, state and local officials, engineers, landowners, industry representatives, and environmental advocates. The PITF will receive comments from twelve working groups:

• Agriculture
• Conservation and Natural Resources
• County Government
• Emergency Preparedness
• Environmental Protection
• Historical/Cultural/Tribal
• Local Government Officials
• Natural Gas End Users
• Pipeline Safety and Integrity
• Public Participation
• Siting and Routing
• Workforce/Economic Development

Based on the collective recommendations submitted to the PITF by the twelve working groups above, the PITF will provide Governor Wolf with a final report in February 2016.

For Governor Wolf and DEP Secretary Quigley, this initiative represents an opportunity to develop a comprehensive “smart planning” approach to pipeline infrastructure development that balances the need for infrastructure development while protecting our environmental and human resources.

Examples of draft recommendations submitted to the PITF by the working groups include:

• Agriculture
– Educate Landowners on Pipeline Development Issues

• Conservation and Natural Resources
– Communicate Pipeline Development Conservation Practices to the Public
– Give Special Consideration to Protected/Designated Lands in Pipeline Siting
– Implement a Mitigation Bank to Improve Water Quality
– Promote Biodiversity in Pipeline Development
– Require Performance-Based Metrics for Long Term Maintenance of Rights-of-ways

• County Government
– Counties Should Partner in Implementation of Task Force Recommendations
– Develop Training Opportunities for County Officials
– Develop Tools to Educate the Public on Pipeline Development
– Require Shared Rights-of-way
– Create a Commonwealth Library of Pipeline Information

• Emergency Preparedness
– Standardize Emergency Response Plans
– Require Infrastructure Mapping
– PUC Should Develop a Comprehensive List of Pipeline Classifications
– Create County/Regional Safety Task Forces
– Provide Training to Local Emergency Responders
– Establish Protocol for Emergency Movement of Heavy Equipment during Off-Hours

• Environmental Protection
– Sponsors Should Perform Alternative Analysis to Avoid/Minimize Impacts
– Develop Standard Water Quality Monitoring Practices
– Do Not Locate Pipelines Parallel to Streams within its 100-Year Floodway

• Natural Gas End Use
– Expand Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC), Act 11 of 2012
– Develop Municipal Guidelines for Natural Gas Distribution Lines

• Pipeline Safety and Integrity
– Require Leak Repair Schedules
– Require a Cathodic Protection Program
– Authorize PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) Regulation of Non-Jurisdictional Pipelines

For more information on this draft report or infrastructure development, please contact Leech Tishman’s Energy Practice Group, at 412.261.1600.

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