Fracking Pipelines Currently Unregulated
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Pipelines carrying natural gas from hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) operations are currently unregulated by the federal government, leaving a large gap in the reporting of leaks, corrosion and potential health hazards.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the agency that regulates gas pipelines, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, only regulates about 24,000 miles of the 240,000 miles of what are known as “gathering pipelines” in the U.S. Gathering pipelines collect natural gas and hazardous liquids from production areas and transport them to processing facilities.
And none of the pipes overseen by regulators involve natural gas hauled from deep beneath the earth through the controversial method known as fracking.
Although gathering pipelines usually pose lower safety risks than other pipelines, the lack of data and regulation makes their overall safety uncertain. GAO auditors recommended that the government expand its oversight of these pipelines to ensure proper safety inspections.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Audit: Natural Gas Lines Tied To Fracking Lack Oversight (by Garance Burke, Associated Press)
Pipeline Safety: Collecting Data and Sharing Information on Federally Unregulated Gathering Pipelines Could Help Enhance Safety (Government Accountability Office) (pdf)
What Chemicals are Used in Fracking? (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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