U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran introduced legislation this week to protect Kansans from the threat of dangerous natural gas explosions by allowing states to monitor underground natural gas storage in the absence of federal action.
“It’s been over 10 years since we lost two lives to a gas explosion in Hutchison, and the federal government is still nowhere to be found.” Roberts said. “This threat is real. Our first priority is to protect Kansans from harm. We need strong oversight in the storage of natural gas reserves, and in the absence of federal leadership the state must be allowed to step up and protect its people. Inaction opens the door for a real tragedy, so we must act and put our faith in the people on the ground to protect their families, friends and neighbors.”
“This legislation fills a void by allowing states to step in when the federal government fails to monitor natural gas storage sites,” Sen. Moran said. “Our country’s citizens should be protected from the threat of explosions, and this common-sense approach puts safety first.”
At issue is a 2009 District Court ruling that determined Kansas, through the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), could not monitor its own storage fields if the gas in those facilities is in interstate transportation.
In the four years since the ruling, the state has been barred from inspecting storage sites, and the federal government, specifically the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has failed to act.
In Kansas, there are 11 interstate underground storage sites containing over 270 billion cubic feet of gas.
Senator Roberts and Moran’s legislation will allow states to monitor the wellbores in interstate underground gas storage facilities. A state’s inspection plan may be approved by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).