–Rep. Chris Quinn’s (R-Delaware) bill that would require pipeline companies carrying natural gas liquids through highly populated areas provide emergency response plans to local emergency management providers passed unanimously in the Senate on Thursday and now awaits Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature to become law.
“I am pleased that the Senate has moved this critical bill forward,” Quinn said. “The broad bipartisan support shows this bill is clearly aimed at safety and protecting Pennsylvanians, an issue we all agree is a priority.”
House Bill 2293
would require a pipeline operator to provide emergency response plans upon request to the secretary of the Public Utility Commission, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Emergency Management Director for each county where the pipeline runs through a densely populated area. The unanimous passage in the Senate follows a unanimous vote in the House six months ago.
“Communication is critical for any response, especially when public safety is at risk,” Quinn said. “Too often communication between pipeline operators and our local emergency management professionals breaks down, so this crucial legislation will ensure that everyone has the information they need to properly respond should an issue arise. Pipelines traverse through very populated areas of Delaware County and ensuring public safety in those areas must be our top priority.”
The bill was held in the Senate due to an amendment placed on the bill by Sen. Katie Muth (D-Montgomery/Chester/Berks). Her amendment would have required the emergency plans to be submitted regardless of a request and made pipeline operators liable of costs associated with an incident, including evacuation costs. The Senate could not reach an agreement on Muth’s amendment and she eventually removed it to enable passage of the bill.
“Sen. Muth’s amendment would have strengthened my bill and I support it,” Quinn said. “Unfortunately, the legislative process is often a difficult one and we needed to get something passed to better the current situation. I appreciate Sen. Muth’s efforts and her cooperation on this matter.”
Since there are serious security concerns around pipelines, the bill would ensure all officials who review the response plan adhere to the Public Utility Confidential Security Information Disclosure Protection Act. Any pipeline operators who do not comply with the proposed law would be subject to enforcement action from the Public Utility Commission.
“This bill is a great step to ensuring our emergency responders know the best approach to dealing with an issue concerning our existing pipeline infrastructure,” Quinn said. “While there is more we can do to ensure safety, this is a clear move in the right direction.”
Gov. Wolf will now have 10 days to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.
“Given the support on both sides of the aisle for this legislation, I am hopeful that the governor will sign this bill and help protect residents living near pipelines across this Commonwealth,” Quinn said.
Representative Chris Quinn
168th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rene Morrow