In This Issue

California Pipeline Safety Laws

On October 7, 2011, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed new pipeline safety laws that were written in response to the San Bruno incident. “We learned very important lessons from the tragic explosion in San Bruno,” Brown said. “These bills protect California’s communities by setting new standards for emergency preparedness, placing automatic shutoff valves in vulnerable areas and ensuring that gas companies pressure test transmission lines.”

Assembly Bill 56 by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will require utilities to pressure test all pipelines, install remote-controlled shutoff valves in high population areas, and maintain accurate records. It also requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to track money it grants for pipeline repairs to make sure it is being used properly, and prohibits utilities from using ratepayer money to pay penalties for safety violations. “This is the strongest pipeline safety law in the country,” Hill said. “California is going beyond federal standards and being a leader.”

Other Energy Bills that were signed into legislation include:

  • Senate Bill 44, Corbett, Public utilities: Gas Pipeline Emergency Response Standards: Requires the CPUC to set stricter emergency response standards for gas pipeline and distribution systems, and improves communication and coordination with emergency responders.
  • Senate Bill 216, Yee, Public utilities: Intrastate Natural Gas Pipeline Safety (Shut-off Valves): Directs the CPUC to require utilities to install remote controlled or automatic shut-off valves on gas pipelines in high-consequence areas or on pipelines that traverse an earthquake fault if the CPUC finds them necessary.
  • Senate Bill 705, Leno, Natural Gas: Service and Safety: Requires each gas corporation to develop a plan for the safe and reliable operation of its pipeline facilities, and require the CPUC to approve the initial plans by December 31, 2012.
  • Senate Bill 879, Padilla, Natural gas pipelines: Safety. Requires the gas utilities to establish a balancing account for the collection and expenditures of funds used for the maintenance and upgrade of the intrastate pipeline system. Increases the maximum penalty from $20,000 to $50,000 for any public utility that fails or neglects to comply with any order, decision, decree, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the CPUC.

For a copy of these Pipeline Safety Bills, contact Jessica Roger.