A bipartisan group of Kansas legislators is proposing a bill in Congress to give states the authority to inspect natural gas storage facilities, something the courts have decreed should be done by the federal government. But the feds so far are refusing to do the job.
Citing safety concerns with an absence of any gas storage inspections in his state for the past 19 months, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) plans to introduce a measure in Congress that will return authority for inspecting the facilities to the state. Meanwhile, news media in Kansas reported Monday that the head of the Kansas state House of Representatives utilities committee, Rep. Carl Holmes, intends to push a resolution early next year in support of the congressional effort in Washington, DC.
The same news reports said that later this month Roberts will introduce his federal legislation seeking to give Kansas back its authority to make safety inspections of 11 underground gas storage operations in the state that collectively hold 270 Bcf of natural gas. For the most part the gas is stored in Kansas for shipment in interstate pipelines to markets in other states.
All of the storage sites have gone uninspected for the last 19 months, according to a report in Monday’s Wichita Eagle. The lead federal agency, the Department of Transportation, has opted not to inspect the storage fields.
Ten years ago Kansas experienced an explosion at a mobile home that killed two people when gas escaped from an underground gas storage salt formation. The escaping gas migrated more than seven miles in Hutchinson, KS.
Earlier this year the Kansas state lawmakers passed unanimous resolutions in both the House and Senate to ask the federal government to restore state authority in this area. It is intended that Roberts’ action in the U.S. Senate will help support the state’s efforts by giving state lawmakers an actual federal bill to support, Holmes told local news media.
The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has helped Roberts’ Congressional staff draft the legislation he will introduce. KCC Chairman Mark Sievers supports the efforts to restore regulation at the state level. He told news media the issue is a “safety” matter that has to be dealt with.
KCC’s authority would be restored to what existed before last year’s ruling by the federal courts.
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