A Pennsylvania lawmaker is proposing legislation that would require real-time monitoring of all natural gas wells and pipelines in the state.
Although the exact language of the bill is not yet available, the proposal from state Rep. Duane Milne, a Republican from the Philadelphia area, would require the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and county emergency responders to set up a wireless mesh network (WMN) to provide a data stream for all gas infrastructure in the state.
A WMN is a grid of individual radio transmitters that communicate with each other without each having to connect to the Internet. The network becomes stronger as more nodes are added and is "self-healing," automatically rerouting information if one node drops.
The legislation is necessary because most wells and pipelines are un-manned once they go into operation and therefore do not provide a real-time stream of information about problems, Milne said. The WMN would provide information to operators and regulators simultaneously.
"While the benefits of natural gas extraction for the Commonwealth and its citizens are clear, it remains vitally important that such operations be safe, clean and efficient," Milne said. "Having WMN technology designed to ensure safe and efficient operations would further the success of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, resulting in continued job growth and augmenting the state's revenue base."
Although the technology is cheaper than traditional networks, the proposal would still require adding equipment to more than 5,000 existing wells and thousands of miles of gas pipelines across the state.
Milne announced the legislation on Monday at the headquarters of Rajant Technologies, a WMN provider located in his district.
After a lull following the passage of an omnibus shale gas bill, Act 13, the Pennsylvania General Assembly is once again considering legislation targeting aspects of the natural gas industry (see Shale Daily, Feb. 15). Increased transparency is a theme among the new bills.
Sen. Richard Kasunic, a Democrat from southwestern Pennsylvania, plans to introduce legislation requiring the DEP to notify landowners of any enforcement order taken against an operator on that property. "This legislation will increase the awareness of land and surface owners to any unlawful activities that may have future effects on the use and sale of their land," Kasunic recently wrote in a call for co-sponsors.