Sept. 24–As the natural gas business has matured in Pennsylvania, developing pipelines to get the gas to market has become the most controversial part of the enterprise. Multiple lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts and some industry patrons in the Legislature have introduced a bill to vastly restrict pipeline protests.
Each pipeline issue is different, based on local conditions. But, generally, pipelines are the most efficient and safest means to transport large amounts of gas over long distances.
A pipeline explosion Sept. 10 in Center Twp., Beaver County, brought up an old issue that should have been resolved long ago — pipeline mapping.
One home was destroyed and dozens of local residents were evacuated, but no one was injured in the massive blast of a 24-inch pipeline, which had been in operation for only a week. An investigation has begun, but the pipeline company said a nearby landslide caused by heavy rains is suspect.
As noted by WESA TV, there was no publicly available map of the pipeline. That is not because the pipeline was new, but because federal regulations require publicly available maps only of major transmission pipelines, rather than gathering lines like the one that exploded, and smaller distribution lines.
A pipeline infrastructure task force created by Gov. Tom Wolf recommended in 2016 that maps of smaller pipelines also should be made available to the public, but the state Public Utility Commission has called that “a work in progress.'”
The state Legislature should accelerate that process by requiring publicly available pipeline maps as a matter of law.
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