Gov. Wolf forms Pennsylvania gas pipeline system taskforce

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) formed a Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force to help state agencies, natural gas producers, and communities closely work together as thousands of miles of pipelines are proposed to move gas and related products from wellheads to markets.

The Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force (PITF) also will include representatives from the state legislature, federal and local governments, and environmental organizations, he said in announcing the group’s formation on May 27.

“We need to work with the industry to make sure that the positive economic benefits of Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources can more quickly be realized in a responsible way,” Wolf said. “This taskforce is part of our commitment to seeing the natural gas industry succeed.”

He named John Quigley, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s acting secretary, chairman of PITF.

“Over the next decade, we could see the construction of as many as 25,000 miles of gathering lines,” Quigley said. “We can also expect another 4,000-5,000 miles of midstream and transmission pipelines in Pennsylvania.”

Pipeline development oversight is a challenge for both the industry and local communities since no single federal or state agency has sole authority, the state officials said.

They said PITF would try to recommend best practices for planning, siting and routing pipelines; generating meaningful public participation; make it predictable and efficient to obtain permits; use construction methods which minimize environmental impacts; and develop long-term options and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity.

“The continued build-out of our region’s pipeline infrastructure—which is creating thousands of good-paying local union jobs—is mission critical to maximizing the consumer savings and air quality-related benefits directly tied to shale production,” Marcellus Shale Coalition Pres. Dave Spigelmyer said in response to Wolf’s announcement.

Pennsylvania’s manufacturing outlook also is bright, but the industries’ shared successes will largely be determined by pipeline access, he said.

“For these important reasons,” Spigelmyer said, “the administration’s efforts are appreciated and we look forward to lending our industry’s subject matter expertise and deep knowledge, focused on environmental and community safety, as well as supporting ongoing regulatory compliance training and best management practice sharing.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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