Katelyn Armbruster: Five Most Important Players on Pipelines

1. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

The independent agency charged with regulating interstate pipelines, FERC, has the final say in issuing certificates for pipeline siting and construction. The Commission, as they are, also regulates the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, storage facilities and other issues relating to siting, construction, and abandonment of pipeline facilities.

FERC is also responsible for following the National Environmental Protection Act guidelines for creating and reviewing Environmental Impact Statements for new construction of pipelines. Applications for pipelines sent to FERC require coordination with government agencies related to the environment. https://www.ferc.gov/

2.  Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

Within the U.S. Department of Transportation is the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the agency responsible for regulating safety, security, and monitoring of interstate pipelines once they are in operation. The Office of Pipeline Safety, acting through PHMSA, is the office that enforces federal regulations on safety on the ground.

The PHMSA must monitor and work closely with pipeline companies to ensure safety regulations are being met. This is done through routine inspections. The agency also enforces communication requirements for pipeline operators to inform the public on pipeline safety issues. The agency collects data on pipeline incidents, working to form a safer network of pipelines. This agency is important because they are the leading agency keeping the public safe from pipeline disasters and informing the public on pipeline issues. http://phmsa.dot.gov

3. Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force (PITF)

With rapid pipeline development expected in Pennsylvania, this task force and its 50 members are leading the way to a safer, more reliable system to pipeline construction. Covering 12 topic areas, including areas like agriculture, they are creating suggestions for pipeline regulation improvement for the state to implement. Their recommendations may change the face of pipeline regulation for a state looking to install tens of thousands of pipelines in the next few years.

Most importantly, this group is making their work transparent to the public by uploading documents presented at meetings, videos of the meetings themselves, and sharing the recommendations early on for public input.


4. PennEast Pipeline LLC

A conglomerate of six energy companies, awaiting an evaluation of their proposed pipeline’s impact on the environment, PennEast is a key entity in the pipeline construction boom in Pennsylvania. Their proposed pipeline travels across state lines to distant markets with hopes of contributing to securing domestic energy resources.

PennEast pipeline has the potential to bring economic benefits, however, an EIS will determine whether it is appropriate in an environmental context. The success of this pipeline may determine how other pipeline companies approach FERC and interact with communities involved. https://penneastpipeline.com/

5. Concerned Citizens Against the Pipeline

A civil society group eager to battle the interests of pipeline companies, specifically the PennEast proposal, may have the power to stall progress long enough for the company to cancel their plans. The group is the main advocate against the PennEast pipeline and their efforts are to inform the public about the negative impacts of the pipeline.

Active on different sites of social media, the group has taken to calling people in the area to action against the pipeline through filing comments with FERC and applying as interveners. Their actions are contributing to the outcome of where the pipeline lays and possibly if the pipeline is to be developed. https://www.stoppenneast.org/