PA Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Presents Report, Top 12 Recommendations to Governor

HARRISBURG – In its report to Gov. Tom Wolf, the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force identified a dozen top recommendations, along with a broader set of 184 suggestions, to help Pennsylvania achieve responsible development of natural gas pipeline infrastructure in the Commonwealth.

The task force presented the recommendations in six major categories, designed to drive wider public discussion on the critical, complex and interrelated environmental and community issues that Pennsylvania faces in the development of the infrastructure needed to transport gas to market.

The Governor created the task force to identify best practices for pipeline siting, permitting and safety. Pipeline infrastructure development is governed by a complicated matrix of federal and state laws and regulations, county plans, and local ordinances. Multiple agencies are involved in permitting and overseeing siting, construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure.

In the next decade, Pennsylvania will undergo a substantial pipeline infrastructure build-out to transport gas and related byproducts from thousands of wells throughout the state. With that growth in mind, Governor Wolf asked the task force to develop recommendations to:

  • Amplify and engage in meaningful public participation
  • Develop long-term operations and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity
  • Employ construction methods that reduce environmental and community impact
  • Maximize opportunities for predictable and efficient permitting
  • Plan, site and route pipelines in ways to avoid or reduce environmental and community impacts
  • Enhance workforce/economic development

Chaired by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Quigley, the 48 task force members and more than 100 additional volunteers serving in 12 workgroups have been meeting since July 2015. The task force voted on all 184 recommendations, identifying the top two recommendations in each category.

Over the coming months, recommendations that fall within the purview of Commonwealth agencies will be further assessed and evaluated for possible implementation. Industry and other agencies are encouraged to do the same for recommendations that lie within their purviews, said Quigley.

“This report should start a larger conversation in Pennsylvania. It will be a success if it touches off a sustained debate and promotes collaboration between communities, the gas industry, pipeline builders, landowners, and other stakeholders,” said Quigley.

“This infrastructure build-out will impact every county in the state, so it’s imperative that Pennsylvanians and the industries that want to do business here engage in this conversation constructively.”

The top two recommendations under each category that resulted from that voting process:

  • Amplify and engage in meaningful public participation
    • Establish early coordination with local landowners and lessors
    • Educate landowners on pipeline development issues
  • Develop long-term operations and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity
    • Train emergency responders
    • Enhance emergency response training for responder agencies
  • Employ construction methods that reduce environmental impact
    • Minimize impacts of stream crossings
    • Use best available combination of technologies to protect exceptional value and high quality waters
  • Maximize opportunities for predictable and efficient permitting
    • Ensure adequate agency staffing for reviewing pipeline infrastructure projects
    • Implement electronic permit submissions for chapters 102 and 105
  • Plan, site and route pipelines to avoid/reduce environmental and community impacts
    • Expand PA1Call for all classes of pipelines
    • Identify barriers to sharing rights-of-ways
  • Enhance workforce/economic development
    • Attract military veterans to the energy workforce
    • Enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education

For more information on the report, and the full set of recommendations, click here.

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