Senate Panel Approves Rafferty Bill To Examine, Improve Pipeline Construction and Operations in PA

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today approved SR 373 sponsored by Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R-44) and Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19) that would establish a bipartisan, bicameral legislative commission that would be charged with recommending improvements and developing legislation to enhance the safety, oversight and interagency coordination in the transport of oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids through pipelines in the Commonwealth.

“Natural gas extraction has increased dramatically over the last decade, resulting in the construction of new pipeline infrastructure to transport hazardous liquids, gases and other byproducts in large quantities through densely-populated areas of Pennsylvania,” Rafferty said.  “As a result, many landowners and communities have experienced the negative aspects associated with poorly-managed pipeline construction, including sinkholes and spoiled wells.”

He added that the high-pressure pipelines also present a major safety hazard since they are in close proximity to homes, schools and population centers.  Rafferty specifically pointed to continued problems with the Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline Project, which forced the state to repeatedly suspend construction due to safety concerns.

“These recurring incidents demonstrate a clear need for exploring legislative measures that will improve management, increase safety and advance oversight of pipeline construction and operations,” Rafferty said.  “Knowing that more of these major pipelines may be built, and the issues we have with the Sunoco Pipeline, it is crucial that we form a value-adding commission to ensure the residents of this Commonwealth have a right to safe communities and benefit from regulations and laws that enhance their safety and protect the environment.”

Senator Rafferty commended the Chairman for his efforts to bring this important piece of legislation up for a vote and thanked his colleagues, including Senator Andy Dinniman, who provided an affirmative vote.

“While the Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline Project has brought the issue of pipeline regulation, or lack thereof, in Pennsylvania to the forefront, it’s only the tip of the iceberg as more and more pipeline projects are either on the horizon or already underway,” Dinniman said. “I appreciate Senator Rafferty’s cooperation and support on a number of pipeline safety bills currently advancing in the legislature. The commission offers an opportunity to build on that progress and for lawmakers to work together in the spirit of bipartisanship to ensure that the pipeline safety concerns of residents throughout our region are heard and addressed.”

Senate Resolution 373 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.