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National study finds pipelines are inadequately regulated

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In a review of state oversight, the Government Accountability Office found a number of states that do not sufficiently regulate the pipelines carrying gas from drilling rigs.

According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, 13 states: 

  • Are unsure or don't know where some of their natural gas pipelines are located, or
  • Have little or no information on pipeline reliability.

But according to New York officials, we're not one of them.

These "gathering pipelines" carry gas from a drilling site to a processing facility.

The report concluded that expanded natural gas exploration could increase the safety risk posed by unregulated pipelines, but stopped short of calling on the federal government to come in and make up for the lax regulation in some states:

To enhance the safety of unregulated onshore hazardous liquid and gas gathering pipelines, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the PHMSA [Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration] Administrator to collect data from operators of federally unregulated onshore hazardous liquid and gas gathering pipelines, subsequent to an analysis of the benefits and industry burdens associated with such data collection.

The New York Public Service Commission regulates pipelines that originate in New York. Commission spokesman James Denn says New York aggressively regulates its pipelines.

"This includes construction, operations, maintenance requirements, so there is a significant difference between what some states and the federal government does in terms of these pipelines as opposed to what's done here in New York," says Denn.

According to a 2011 report by the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives, New York ranks fifth among states in number of regulations that are stronger than the federal government's.

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