What is Senate Bill S. 1768?
This bill would allow states to enforce federal pipeline safety requirements at wellbores (or the drilled holes into the earth) at underground natural gas storage facilities. Federal regulations currently prevent states from carrying out inspections at facilities where natural gas is shipped interstate.
States could develop inspection plans in consultation with the Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to monitor wellbores at interstate gas storage facilities.
State and federal agencies that monitor safety requirements at underground gas storage facilities, people living near gas storage facilities or their pipelines, air quality, pollution, the DOT, and the PHMSA.
Cost of Senate Bill S. 1768
A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.
Of Note: A leaky well at an underground gas storage facility in California
began releasing methane (the primary component of natural gas) in
October 2015, and the leak not expected to be stopped until the early
months of 2016 when relief wells are completed in February and March.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on January 6, 2015. In the month of November alone, the leak accounted for 25 percent of the state of California’s methane emissions.
In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) highlighted the potentially tragic consequences of a failure to monitor safety standards at natural gas storage facilities in a press release introducing this legislation:
“It’s been over 10 years since we lost two lives to a gas explosion in Hutchinson, and the federal government is still nowhere to be found... We need strong oversight in the storage of natural gas reserves, and in the absence of federal leadership, the state must be allowed to step up and protect its people. Inaction opens the door for a real tragedy, so we must act and put our faith in our own people on the ground to protect their families, friends, and neighbors.”
In 2011, a Kansas law related to inspections at underground gas storage facilities was struck down by a federal court — and during the following 18 months the state was prevented from carrying out inspections, while federal agencies chose not to conduct any.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user EARTHWORKS action)