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6.1.2: Regulatory Oversight

  • Page ID
    15659
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    Major interstate pipelines and pipelines within Pennsylvania are under the jurisdiction of federal or state regulatory agencies. In 2011, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 127 (the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act) expanding the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's (PUC) authority to include non-public utility natural gas gathering lines. Specifically, the PUC now has the authority to enforce federal pipeline safety laws as they relate to natural gas gathering lines within the Commonwealth. Act 127 also requires the PUC to maintain a registry of pipeline operators within Pennsylvania and to recover the costs of enforcement by yearly assessments on pipeline operators.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Office of Oil and Gas Management, provides oversight of certain aspects of pipeline development in the Commonwealth via environmental protection laws that include the Clean Streams Law and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has authority over the location, construction, and operation of interstate pipelines. The FERC review process for new interstate pipelines includes an environmental assessment, review of route alternatives, and interfacing with landowners and the public. FERC also regulates the abandonment of interstate pipelines and sets rates that carriers charge for interstate transmission of natural gas.

    Once federally regulated, interstate natural gas pipelines become operational, safety is regulated, monitored, and enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Within DOT, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for enforcing proper design, construction, operation, maintenance, testing, and inspection standards.

    Check Your Understanding

    Q1:

    What authority does PA Act 127 give the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC)?

    Answer

    In 2011, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 127 (the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act) expanding the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's (PUC) authority to include non-public utility natural gas gathering lines. Specifically, the PUC now has the authority to enforce federal pipeline safety laws as they relate to natural gas gathering lines within the Commonwealth. Act 127 also requires the PUC to maintain a registry of pipeline operators within Pennsylvania and to recover the costs of enforcement by yearly assessments on pipeline operators.

    Q2:

    Major interstate pipelines and pipelines within Pennsylvania are under the jurisdiction of federal or state regulatory agencies. Identify the pipeline jurisdiction of the following regulatory agencies. Also indicate which agency has the right to enforce eminent domain:

    • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
    • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Office of Oil and Gas Management (OOGM)
    • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
    • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
    Answer
    • FERC has authority over the location, construction, and operation of interstate pipelines and can enforce eminent domain under the following conditions: if FERC approves the project and no agreement with the landowner is reached, the company may acquire the easement under eminent domain (a right given to the company by statute for FERC authorized use) with a court determining compensation. In Pennsylvania, eminent domain or right of condemnation generally only applies to interstate transmission lines, or lines moving gas longer distances between two or more states. In other states the power of eminent domain may be given to all intrastate gathering and distribution pipeline companies under a ‘common carrier’ provision.
    • DEP, OOGM provides oversight of certain aspects of pipeline development in the Commonwealth via environmental protection laws that include the Clean Streams Law and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act
    • Once federally regulated, interstate natural gas pipelines become operational, safety is regulated, monitored, and enforced by the DOT
    • PHMSA is responsible for enforcing proper design, construction, operation, maintenance, testing, and inspection standards for pipelines

    6.1.2: Regulatory Oversight is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Marcellus Matters via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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