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Natural gas commission formed to study safety of drilling in WV
Date:【2015-08-24 10:35】 Read:【】Times

 Because of the state’s boom in the oil and gas industry, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed a safety commission to study the issues that arise with drilling in the Mountain State.

“We must work together to maximize the development of our abundant natural resources,” Tomblin said in the first meeting of the Commission on Oil and Natural Gas Industry Safety Aug. 13.
“I appreciate the willingness of those of you around the table to share your expertise with us,” he added. “We must work together to make sure our workers have the skills to do their jobs and return home safely to their families each night.”
Commission members range in skill sets and include members with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Public Service Commission and members of the West Virginia Legislature.
“Despite the efforts of some, I remain confident our state will continue to supply the nation’s energy well into the future,” Tomblin said. “Coal and natural gas play important roles.”
Larry Malone, director of policy to the governor, was given the task of organizing safety meetings. He said the state is fortunate to benefit from natural gas resources, and the governor wants a study to ensure the state is aware of safety requirements and making it a priority.
“The group we’ve assembled represents all facets of the oil and natural gas industry,” he said. “We also have cabinet members from key departments.
“So we not only are properly educated but also able to make an assessment about whether any additional changes or programs should be developed here in West Virginia.”
Malone said while there won’t be public hearings or meetings, officials will invite others to speak to the group, including representatives from West Virginia University and emergency service personnel in the northern panhandle.
“We want to make sure we have their involvement in this as well, and get their perspective, because they go to do the emergency response, injuries and work with local community leaders,” he said. “We want to make sure we have their involvement and perspective as well.”
Members of the commission include:
Mary S. Friend, representative of the Public Service Commission;
Thomas Raught, representative with experience in federal OSHA regulations;
Chris Flanagan, representative with experience in oil and natural gas drilling and production;
Benjamin A. Hardesty, representative with experience in oil and natural gas drilling and production;
Bob Orndorff, representative with experience in oil or natural gas pipelines;
Shawn Patterson, representative with experience in oil or natural gas pipelines;
Mike McCown, representative of an independent oil and natural gas producer;
Allen Nelson, representative of labor;
Letha Haas, representative of labor;
Bryan Christian, representative of the trucking industry;
Sen. Jack Yost, representing Brooke, Hancock, Ohio and part of Marshall counties (ex-officio);
Sen. Jeff Mullins, chairman of the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee and represents Raleigh County, Wyoming County and part of McDowell County (ex-officio);
Delegate Lynwood “Woody” Ireland, chairman the House of Delegates Energy Committtee and represents Ritchie County and part of Pleasants County (ex-officio); and
Delegate Patsy Trecost, representing Harrison and part of Taylor counties (ex-officio);
During presentations, Friend said the goal of pipeline safety is to make sure facilities are designed to handle use.
Up until about 1968, pipelines were not regulated, she said. In 1968, the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act was passed. It has been modified 120 times since then to add new regulations. In 1968, Hazardous Materials Safety Regulations were created, and they have been amended about 99 times.
“It’s a concern to the people living and working around pipelines,” she added.
Friend said the office of pipeline safety was established to administer pipeline safety rules, and is part of the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
All gases delivered by pipeline are regulated under the act and it is focused only on the pipelines themselves.
“When we talk about pipelines, we talk about transmission, distribution or regulated production and gathering lines,” she said.
As far as federal pipelines, Friends said lines can be classified differently by federal and state standards.
The PSC regulates intrastate gas and hazardous liquid transmission lines, gas distribution centers and some gathering lines defined by federal code.
The PSC regulates a little more than 14,000 miles of pipelines.
Ireland, R-Ritchie, questioned the regulation of ethanol lines. Friend said ethanol is not regulated, but ethane is because it falls under natural gas. She said the reason for the lack of regulation is because it was not a commonly regulated product at the time other regulations were set in place.
The commission’s report is due to Tomblin’s office by Nov. 16.
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