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Pennsylvania Senators Working on Pipeline Siting Legislation

Three Pennsylvania state senators are planning to introduce legislation that would require the Department of Environmental Protection to develop permit conditions and siting guidelines for pipelines built in the state.

Democratic Sen. Andrew Dinniman and Republican Sens. John Rafferty and Tom Killion are seeking co-sponsors for the bill. The lawmakers represent parts of southeast Pennsylvania, where residents living near the Mariner East (ME) 2 pipeline project have dealt with repeated spills, violations and other issues during construction of the natural gas liquids system.

The legislation, according to a memo seeking co-sponsors, would help ensure “pipelines are built and operated in the safest way possible that minimizes the impacts to communities and sensitive environmental areas.” The bill would also help prevent wasting natural gas produced in the state by implementing additional oversight of construction.

“Public policy leadership is essential to ensuring that Pennsylvania puts in place an oversight framework that is consistent with the pace and scale that science demands to avoid the worst effects of bad pipeline management -- a framework flexible enough to adapt to technology innovation and advanced leak detection,” the senators said in the memo.

Dinniman has been a vocal critic of Mariner East. ME 2 construction has been suspended since May after he filed a complaint questioning the safety of the pipeline. Sinkholes formed near  construction of the system in a residential area and there have been water well problems caused by horizontal directional drilling in the county he represents.

Intrastate systems in the state are not regulated as heavily as interstate pipelines or upstream activities. The memo is the latest call to increase oversight of pipelines in the state as the natural gas infrastructure build-out continues.

The senators noted that more than one million people live or work near oil and natural gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania. While the memo was short on details, the senators said the legislation would require advanced leak detection and transparent safety management.

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