Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety” (PIPES) Act. This bi-partisan bill was the culmination of efforts by both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This Act is intended to increase the efficiency and transparency of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) while enlarging safety inspections and audits of the natural gas pipeline industry.
HMS Legal Blog
Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate passed the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (PIPES Act). This bill is now headed to President Obama to be signed into law. In addition to reauthorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through FY2019, this soon-to-be law enacts substantive changes in the pipeline industry’s regulatory landscape.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) granted Laser Northeast Gathering Co.’s (“Laser”) petition to withdrawal its application to become a public utility.
By a 3-2 vote adopting a motion by PUC Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr., the PUC approved Laser’s petition to withdraw its application and denied the request of certain parties to rescind its prior Orders in the case. PUC Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer and Commissioner James H. Cawley dissented not as to granting withdrawal but as to the issue of whether the prior Orders should be rescinded.
On June 4, 2011, the PUC reduced its majority motion to a written order and has remanded the case to an Administrative Law Judge for a ruling on whether the service and terms of the partial settlement are in the public interest. The Order essentially follows Commissioner Wayne E. Gardner’s Motion, which was joined by Chairman Robert F. Powelson and Vice-Chairman John F. Coleman, Jr. at the May 19, 2011 public meeting. It accepted the position of Laser and other parties, such as the PUC’s Office of Trial Staff, that the service proposed by Laser will be public utility service because it will be open to any member of the public requiring service to the extent of capacity.
There are two natural gas pipeline safety bills pending before the Pennsylvania General Assembly: House Bill 344 and Senate Bill 325. Each was met with overwhelming approval in the chamber in which it was proposed, and the passage of either would result in additional safety regulation of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.