Gov. Wolf’s commitment to pipeline safety is good news for Chester County
With pipelines crisscrossing my district, I was very happy to hear Gov. Wolf include pipeline safety and oversight initiatives in his 2020-21 budget plan. Pipeline safety and accountability are enormous concerns in Chester County, and I have worked to ensure those concerns are heard in Harrisburg.
In addition to meetings with Energy Transfer Partners, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Public Utility Commission, I also met with Gov. Wolf multiple times to discuss my concerns – and those of my constituents – regarding this issue. Additionally, at my invitation, the governor visited Chester County to tour pipeline sights. The seeds of these meetings bore fruit this past week, as evidenced in the governor’s budget address.
The governor has displayed a deeper insight in these matters, and I am very enthusiastic about his prioritization of pipeline issues and his call for immediate legislative action to address glaring gaps in existing law:
As it stands, no state agency has authority to review intrastate pipeline routes, essentially allowing pipeline operators to site through densely populated high-consequence areas.
Pipeline operators are not currently required to provide pertinent information to schools and childcare centers located near pipelines.
Operators are not required to provide residents and municipalities with notification regarding drilling activities at least five days in advance.
Pipeline operators are not required to meet with county emergency officials, nor are they required to provide emergency response plans to the PUC.
Operators are not required to install automatic or remote shutoff valves in high-consequence areas.
No explicit legislation exists regarding pipeline infrastructure setback requirements, nor the authority of the DEP to consider these setbacks from both an environmental and community standpoints.
I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact forward-thinking legislation that provides diligent oversight and safety.
And with the governor committed to the fight, we can further ensure the health, safety and quality of life for our communities.
About Rep. Kristine Howard – Kristine Howard (D-Chester), a University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers Law School graduate and former child abuse investigator, was elected to represent the 167th Legislative District in November 2018. The district includes Charlestown, East Whiteland, Easttown, West Pikeland, West Whiteland, Willistown Township, and Malvern Borough.