Pipeline safety bill filed again in Kentucky legislature - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pipeline safety bill filed again in Kentucky legislature

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – For the second straight year, a Kentucky lawmaker wants to create a statewide fund to pay for pipeline safety measures such as disaster response plans and training emergency crews.

House Bill 240, filed last week by state Rep. David Floyd, also would give greater power to the state’s Public Service Commission to inspect and monitor pipelines that pass through Kentucky.

The bill would require pipeline operators to pay $120 each year for every mile of line carrying natural gas, crude oil, natural gas liquids and other related products through the state.

Floyd introduced a similar measure in the 2015 General Assembly, but it died in a House committee. He pushed the idea between legislative sessions, including at a meeting in Louisville last summer.

This year’s bill exempts utilities, such as Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities, from having to pay the annual assessments. Instead, the safety measures mainly apply to companies whose lines carry gas across long distances.

“That’s the target – the ones that cross the state and may not even stop here,” said Floyd, a Bardstown Republican.

The Columbia Gulf Transmission pipeline that ruptured in Adair County, Ky., nearly two years ago, destroying several homes, would be routinely inspected under the bill. So would a natural gas line that Kinder Morgan wants to convert to carry natural gas liquids through 18 Kentucky counties.

Floyd said he expects pipeline operators will fight against the proposed changes, as well as a bill he filed that limits private companies’ power to condemn land.The legislation “disrupts their way of doing business for the last many decade,” he said.

Matthew C. Tackett, executive director of the Kentucky Gas Association, did not immediately respond to phone and email messages left Tuesday seeking comment.

There are no estimates on how much money the assessments will generate. But by exempting utilities, Floyd said he expects his bill would result in roughly $1.5 million a year.

HB 240 has been sent to the House committee on veterans, military affairs and public safety, where Floyd is a vice chairman. He said he has not sought any co-sponsors.

The assessments would start in 2017 and end in 2022. After paying for administrative costs, the money in the safety fund would be split among the Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Department for Environmental Protection and the Public Service Commission.

Specifically:

-45 percent would go the environmental protection department to oversee the spill response program.

-The Cabinet would use 45 percent to launch a grant program for local governments with pipelines in their areas. The funds could be spent on spill training, cleanup costs and other uses.

-The PSC would get 10 percent for its expanded inspections. Under the bill, the agency would ask the federal government for permission to regulate petroleum pipelines in the state and monitor and inspect long-distance lines carrying natural gas and natural gas liquids.

The Energy and Environment Cabinet hasn't taken a position on Floyd's proposal, spokesman Dick Brown said.

The Public Service Commission is “neutral” on the bill, spokesman Andrew Melnykovych said. The agency currently receives federal funding to inspect gas distribution and transmission systems within the state.

The PSC stopped inspecting crude oil and other hazardous liquids pipelines that didn’t cross state borders more than six years ago because “that proved not to be cost effective,” he said.

Floyd’s bill would once again place those intrastate lines under PSC control, as well as long distance, interstate gas and hazardous liquids pipelines that pass through Kentucky.

Eight states, including Ohio, inspect interstate lines on behalf of the federal government, according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“That is something we have not done before,” Melnykovych said.

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