The administration of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says new natural gas pipelines should be allowed to share rights-of-way (ROW) with roadways, one of 16 policy recommendations made to fulfill a requirement of the state’s new omnibus Marcellus Shale law, Act 13.
The recommendations were contained in a 20-page report on the placement of natural gas gathering lines. It was sent to the General Assembly on Tuesday.
“Natural gas gathering lines are key components of the infrastructure needed to transport energy resources from the point of production to the point of consumption,” Patrick Henderson, energy executive to the Corbett administration, said in the report. “Pennsylvanians rightly expect these pipelines to adhere to first-class environmental and public safety standards. Moreover…they seek the deployment of pipelines in a smart and efficient manner that considers the economic realities of the industry, the geographic challenges of the Commonwealth, and the interests of local communities.”
On the recommendation to share ROW, the Corbett administration points to this year’s repeal of a portion of the state’s Limited Access Highway Law, which dates to 1945. “Section 3 [of the highway law] was repealed in part…to encourage the creation of public-private partnerships and should be further repealed so as to permit the sharing of ROW where appropriate,” the report said.
Second on the list of recommendations by the Corbett administration is to have the state Public Utility Code amended to clarify that the sharing of pipeline capacity doesn’t constitute public utility status; it would merely be for the purposes of “increased efficiency and smarter deployment of gathering lines.”
According to the report, the Corbett administration would also like to see cooperation between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state regulators over the permitting of stream crossings for natural gas pipelines.
The governor also called for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to “regularly review” its new Permit Decision Guarantee policy. Corbett had issued an executive order calling for an expedited drilling permit application process on July 24 (see Shale Daily, Nov. 7; July 26).
Corbett said he would like to see the Underground Utility Line Protection Law, also known as “PA One Call,” amended to include mandatory participation beyond the requirements of exiting state law, and for the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to assist the program by creating a state map of unconventional natural gas pipelines. Pipeline operators would also help by standardizing ROW markers.
Steve Forde, vice president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, told NGI’s Shale Daily the organization supports the PUC’s participation in “PA One Call,” which was also established by Act 13. “Safely developing and transporting natural gas is of paramount importance to our industry,” Forde said Thursday. “We continue to further enhance and refine technologies aimed at safely improving operations.
“Additionally, through the use of both above-ground and in-the-pipe inspection technology, our industry is working each and every day to ensure the integrity of these lines meet and exceed both state and federal standards.”
The report also said the Corbett administration supports increasing landowner awareness of upcoming pipeline projects and their potential impact through existing outreach efforts, such as those through county extension offices.
The other recommendations were to:
Act 13, which Corbett signed into law in February, gave shale-rich counties in the state the ability to impose a 15-year impact fee on unconventional gas wells and made upgrades to environmental regulations (see Shale Daily, Feb. 15).
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