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Public Citizen backs bills to protect public from pipeline accidents

According to the Texas Railroad Commission, Texas has 466,623 miles of pipeline, representing about one-sixth of the total pipeline mileage of the entire United States.

Oil and gas pipelines are also inherently dangerous, and that’s why Public Citizen’s Texas office is always keeping a close eye on bills in the state legislature that would improve protections against human injury and/or environmental damage from pipelines, or bills that would erode safeguards.

Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, testified before the legislature this week on three commonsense bills to help make Texas pipelines safer. The bills, sponsored by Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, would:

  • Require prompt disclosure of pipeline incidents to the Railroad Commission, which will facilitate response and preparation for future incidents.
  • Require the use of safer plastic pipelines by gas pipeline operators
  • Create a system for identifying the severity of pipeline leaks and the proscription of an appropriate immediate response to the worst leaks.

We applaud Rep. Anchia for introducing these important bills (CSHB 864, CSHB 866 and CSHB 868). Read more about each of the bills in Shelley’s testimony below.

To the members of the House Committee on Energy Resources

Via hand delivery.

April 8, 2019

Re: CSHB 864 (Anchia) – relating to pipeline incident reporting requirements for gas pipeline operators; clarifying changes to related administrative penalties. Supporting testimony of Public Citizen.

Dear Chairman Paddie and members of the committee:

Public Citizen appreciates the opportunity to testify for CSHB 864 (Anchia) – relating to pipeline incident reporting requirements for distribution gas facility pipeline operators; clarifying changes to related administrative penalties. We are supportive because the bill requires prompt disclosure of pipeline incidents to the Railroad Commission, which will facilitate response and preparation for future incidents.

SECTION 1 of the bill clarifies that a violation of Subchapter E (Pipeline Safety) of the Utilities Code is punishable by a fine under Utilities Code Sec. 121.206, which provides for a penalty of up to $200,000 per violation, with a cap at $2 million.

SECTION 2 of the bill defines “pipeline incident” as one involving a death, $50,000 in property damage, or the release of three million cubic feet of gas. The bill requires operators to report such incidents to the Railroad commission within one hour of discovery, sharing information including the time, location, and certain other details of the incident, as well as any relevant facts including those related to “ignition, explosion, rerouting of traffic, evacuation of a building, and media interest.” The Railroad Commission is asked to retain information about such incidents perpetually.

Pipeline incidents are quite common in Texas, and HB 864 establishes criteria for the reporting of incidents that meet a given threshold. The gathering and maintenance of this information by the Railroad commission will facilitate in the response to a given incident, as well as gather data that may be useful in responding to future incidents.

Because CSHB 864 requires disclosure to the Railroad Commission of certain pipeline incidents, we are supportive.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony, if you wish to discuss our position further, I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 512-477-1155.

Respectfully,

Adrian Shelley, Texas Office Director, Public Citizen

CC: Rep. Abel Herrero, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Ernest Bailes, Rep. Tom Craddick, Rep. Drew Darby, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Roland Gutierrez, Rep. Cody Harris, Rep. Mary Ann Perez, Rep. Jon E. Rosenthal.

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To the members of the House Committee on Energy Resources.

Via hand delivery.

April 8, 2019

Re: CSHB 866 (Anchia) – relating to the replacement of certain gas pipelines with plastic pipelines; clarifying changes to related administrative penalties.

Supporting testimony of Public Citizen.

Dear Chairman Paddie and members of the committee:

Public Citizen appreciates the opportunity to testify for CSHB 866 (Anchia) – relating to the replacement of certain gas pipelines with plastic pipelines; clarifying changes to related administrative penalties. We are supportive because the bill requires the use of plastic pipelines, which are safer and reduce risk of leaks.

SECTION 1 of the bill clarifies that a violation of Subchapter E (Pipeline Safety) of the Utilities Code is punishable by a fine under Utilities Code Sec. 121.206, which provides for a penalty of up to $200,000 per violation, with a cap at $2 million.

SECTION 2 of the bill prevents operators from installing cast iron, wrought iron, or bar steel pipelines. Existing pipelines constructed of these materials are among the oldest and riskiest pipelines in use. The bill also requires operators to develop a “risk-based program” for removing and replacing old pipelines, with the riskiest eight percent of pipelines removed or replaced each year. This represents a sixty percent increase in the annual replacement rate described at 16 TAC Section 8.209(h), which sets an annual replacement rate of five percent. All cast iron pipelines must be replaced by December 31, 2021.

Because CSHB 866 requires the use of safer plastic pipelines by gas pipeline operators, we are supportive.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony, if you wish to discuss our position further, I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 512-477-1155.

Respectfully,

Adrian Shelley, Texas Office Director, Public Citizen

CC: Rep. Abel Herrero, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Ernest Bailes, Rep. Tom Craddick, Rep. Drew Darby, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Roland Gutierrez, Rep. Cody Harris, Rep. Mary Ann Perez, Rep. Jon E. Rosenthal.

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To the members of the House Committee on Energy Resources.

Via hand delivery.

April 8, 2019 Re: CSHB 868 (Anchia) – relating to gas pipeline operator disclosure of the location of pipeline leaks; clarifying changes to related administrative penalties.

Supporting testimony of Public Citizen.

Dear Chairman Paddie and members of the committee:

Public Citizen appreciates the opportunity to testify for CSHB 868 (Anchia) – relating to gas pipeline operator disclosure of the location of pipeline leaks; clarifying changes to related administrative penalties. We are supportive because

SECTION 1 of the bill clarifies that a violation of Subchapter E (Pipeline Safety) of the Utilities Code is punishable by a fine under Utilities Code Sec. 121.206, which provides for a penalty of up to $200,000 per violation, with a cap at $2 million.

SECTION 2 of the bill requires distribution gas pipeline facility operators to report pipeline leaks to the Railroad Commission and publish on the Internet information about leaks including “the exact census block and the location of each leak on a map.”

The bill also establishes a leak grading system and proscribes certain remedial actions for “grade one leaks,” defined as those that present an “existing or probably hazard to persons or property” and requires “immediate action.”

Public Citizen supports the effort to create a system for identifying the severity of pipeline leaks and the proscription of an appropriate immediate response to the worst leaks. We also believe that the public deserves immediate access to information about hazards in their community, information that will allow them to make their own decisions about risk and take their own precautions to limit exposure. For this reason, we are supportive of Internet posting of leak information. Because CSHB 868 increases disclosure and response to pipeline leaks, we are supportive.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony, if you wish to discuss our position further, I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 512-477-1155.

Respectfully,

Adrian Shelley, Texas Office Director, Public Citizen

CC: Rep. Abel Herrero, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Ernest Bailes, Rep. Tom Craddick, Rep. Drew Darby, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Roland Gutierrez, Rep. Cody Harris, Rep. Mary Ann Perez, Rep. Jon E. Rosenthal.

The post Public Citizen backs bills to protect public from pipeline accidents appeared first on TexasVox: The Voice of Public Citizen in Texas.



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