New Approved Law in Iowa Increases Punishment of Pipeline Sabotage

Criminal sabotage of Iowa pipelines could result in heavier punishment under new laws approved by the Iowa Legislature in its 2018 session.

After millions of dollars of damage to the Dakota Access Pipeline, measures were drafted by state homeland security officials creating a new crime of “critical infrastructure sabotage” which is a class B felony and punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.

The Republican-led Iowa Senate rejected an amendment that would have clearly excluded picketing or other public demonstrations from being banned.

Hundreds of Iowans protested the construction of the pipeline, and many were arrested, but owners wanted a law that specifically included “critical infrastructure” so criminals could be charged when their operations are damaged.    
Although most protests were peaceful, some protestors intended to delay completion of the pipeline project.

Des Moines Register


Pennsylvania PUC Judge Orders Shutdown of Mariner East 1 Pipeline Yet Again

Just weeks after Pennsylvania regulators allowed Energy Transfer Partners to restart its Mariner East 1 natural gas liquids pipeline, a Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge on Thursday ordered the company to shut it down again.

PUC hearing examiner Elizabeth Barnes issued the emergency order requiring Energy Transfer to suspend service on its Mariner East 1 pipeline in West Whiteland Township.

Barnes also required the company to halt construction of two new Mariner East pipelines in West Whiteland.

The order comes after a complaint from State Senator Andy Dinniman about the safety of the construction in West Whiteland. Dinniman said the Mariner East project has potentially endangered the safety and “very way of life” in nearby communities, including the local environment and water resources.

Energy Transfer Partners said the order disregards the law and the PUC’s procedures. Legally, the pipeline company has seven days to request the PUC to review the judge’s order.

Earlier this month, the PUC had allowed Energy Transfer to restart operations of the Mariner East 1 pipeline after it ordered a shutdown in March when sinkholes appeared during construction of the new Mariner East 2 pipeline along the same route.

Energy Transfer said it would continue construction in all areas of the project except the 3.5-mile segment in West Whiteland.


Washington Gov. Signs Measure to Boost Oil Transportation Safety in State

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday signed a law improving oil transportation safety to protect state waterways from contamination.

The legislation includes the intent to raise funds that would be used in the prevention of oil spills as well as in the development of tighter preparedness plans that would be followed if oil were to contaminate waterways.

The measure also extends the state's oil barrel tax to pipelines, which currently pays for spill response prevention measures for oil received by train or vessels.

The Department of Ecology must increase coordination with Canadian partners to increase safety, data sharing, and to talk about issues related to reducing oil spill risk and navigational safety.

The DOE must also practice equipment deployment drills every three years for onshore and offshore sites, according to the measure.

The Spokesman-Review

Nebraska Bill Designed to Tighten Requirements for Pipeline Construction Gets Pulled

Nebraskan politician Bob Krist has withdrawn a bill that would have tightened requirements for pipeline construction in the state, including the Keystone XL pipeline, after it was voted 40-7 by lawmakers to be pulled.

The bill was inspired by the Keystone XL pipeline, which most lawmakers support despite the arduous opposition it faces from environmental groups, Native American tribes, and some landowners.

Krist had introduced the bill last week, which was designed to require due process for the taking of private property for private oil pipeline construction instead of the use of eminent domain.

The bill also required periodic payments to landowners for the use of their land and a comprehensive decommissioning plan that involves restoring the property back to its original state once the pipeline reached the end of its life.


Nebraska Bill Aims to Tighten Requirements for Pipeline Construction

Nebraskan politician Bob Krist introduced a bill Tuesday that would tighten requirements for pipeline construction in the state, including TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The legislation would require due process for the taking of private property for private oil pipeline construction instead of the use of eminent domain.

The bill also requires periodic payments to landowners for the use of their land and a comprehensive decommissioning plan that involves restoring the property back to its original state once the pipeline reaches the end of its life.

Under the legislation, any applicant would be required to post a construction and performance bond of at least $100 million.

TransCanada is still deciding if it wants to proceed with construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska after the state Public Service Commission last November approved an alternative route over TransCanada's preferred path through the state.

Lincoln Journal Star

Judge Halts Construction on Part of Mariner East 2 Pipeline

Proposed Route of Mariner East 2 Pipeline (  Chester County Planning Commission  )

Proposed Route of Mariner East 2 Pipeline (Chester County Planning Commission)

An administrative law judge temporary stopped construction on part of the Mariner East 2 natural gas pipeline in eastern Pennslyvania while the state's Public Utility Commission hears and rules on whether the pipeline developer violated a 2015 settlement agreement with a township.

West Goshen Township argues that Sunoco started some construction on the line too early this month and also disputes Sunoco's decision to move a valve control station.

Sunoco argues it moved the valve control station for safety reasons and has otherwise complied with the agreement.

The $2.5 billion pipeline is designed to run for 350 miles spanning Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania and will carry propane, butane, and ethane from the Marcellus Shale formation to the Marcus Hook facility near Philadelphia for both domestic distribution and export.

Fox Business

Legislator Pursues Necessary Changes for Texas' Oil, Gas Regulator

Dallas Democratic representative Rafael Anchia put forth two bills last week aimed at changing the name of Texas' oil and gas regulator and ordering the commission to post all of its data on inspections and violations on its website for the public to view.

This is not the first time efforts have been made to change the name of the Railroad Commission of Texas as legislators and environmental advocates have been requesting it for years. As put forth in Anchia's House Bill 237, advocates believe changing the commission's name to Texas Energy Resources Commission would better reflect the duties of the commission.

Efforts to make the commission's data on violations and inspections available for public viewing have also been pursued over the last several years but have subsequently failed.

The Texas Railroad Commission this year asked lawmakers for additional funding of $45 million to use toward commission improvements including updating its aging IT computer system in order to make it web-based for public viewing. Their current system is 40 years old and outdated, inhibiting the commission to make data readily available for the public to search. The House and the Senate, however, are divided on how much additional spending the commission should receive, if any at all.

Anchia put forth the two bills in the House's Energy Resources committee, which is made up of 10 Republicans and three Democrats.

Fuel Fix

President Obama Signs New Pipeline Safety Bill into Law

By Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project -, CC BY 3.0,

President Barack Obama signed into law on June 21 the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016, which sailed quickly through the House and Senate earlier this month.

The legislation is the result of bipartisan work from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, and its purpose is to reform the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to increase efficiency and transparency.

Under the PIPES Act, PHMSA is required to set federal minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, above which states have the ability to set higher standards for intrastate requirements.

The law also increases inspection requirements for certain underwater oil pipelines as well as updates regulations for certain LNG facilities to keep in line with changing technology and markets.

Along with granting emergency order authority tailored for pipelines, the PIPES Act creates a working group of safety officials and industry stakeholders to put together recommendations for creating an information sharing system to improve safety outcomes. PHMSA also has the authority to study the feasibility of a national integrated pipeline safety database to better oversee federal and state safety efforts.

“We came together, Republicans and Democrats, to improve pipeline safety, and we got the job done with this important law. Every day, American families and businesses depend on safe and efficient energy transportation. The PIPES Act will ensure that our nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipelines continue to provide critical access to energy, and we are proud of the bipartisan work that made this effort a success,” sponsors of the House of the original House legislation responded after the bill became law.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee