Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Pennsylvania Law Identifies Fracking Wells & Pipelines

Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett will sign legislation passed by the Pennsylvania State Legislature that will help emergency officials locate shale gas wells. That legislation, from Senator Lisa Baker, a Luzerne County Republican, requires drillers to inform state and local officials of well pad locations and access roads. They also must submit an emergency response plan to those officials, and post GPS coordinates at the entrance to each well site. The provisions will ensure that those responding to a well site accident have properly information.

The measure's approval puts it among just a handful of bills related to Marcellus Shale drilling activity that have cleared the legislative process this session.

The state Public Utility Commission (PUC) is working to implement the provisions of another of those bills, involving oversight of the state's growing miles of gathering pipelines. The legislation, approved in December, requires the PUC to inspect those pipelines, respond to complaints and issue fines for any violations. The PUC released a proposed set of guidelines for pipeline operators. Companies would be required to submit a $250 registration fee, along with information on how many miles of gathering lines they manage.

The PUC is hiring seven new inspectors, whose salaries were advertised between $51,000 and $66,000. Their placement throughout the state will be determined once officials have analyzed which areas have the most gathering lines. These gathering lines are not registered anywhere at this point in time.  The state does not know with any certainty how many miles of pipeline there are.

The state will receive some federal funding for the program, estimated to cost $1.4 million in the coming year. Operators also will be charged an assessment based on their pipeline mileage. (Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 1/19/2012)

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