Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
July 3, 2003
Rick Bender, Director
Division of Oil and Gas by email
Department of Mines & Minerals
P.O. Box 2244
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Re: Promulgation of Gathering Line Regulations
Thank you for the opportunity to submit recommendations concerning the development of gas gathering line regulations. Your letter of May 28, 2003 asked that I prepare for your consideration "all the salient issues and solutions to the problems that [KRC] members have identified as associated with such regulations."
My suggestions follow.
1. The term "gathering lines" should be defined to include all pipe lines constructed or used for the purpose of or serving to transport natural gas from a production facility to a transmission or main line, including all such lines except those under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under the Natural Gas Act or the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978.
2. The regulation of gathering line location on the same property as the well that the line serves should continue to be reviewed under the operations and reclamation proposal for those instances in which the surface and mineral estates are severed and the applicant is required to provide such a proposal under KRS 353.5901.
3. In all other cases, including those instances where the gathering line traverses a property other than that on which the well it serves is located, and on wellhead properties not covered under KRS 353.5901, an operations and reclamation plan should be submitted that meets these substantive requirements:
a. A prohibition against construction or operation of a segment of a gathering line unless that person has obtained a permit from the Division of Oil and Gas (DOG).
b. Publication of a public notice of intent to seek a permit to construct or operate a regulated natural gas gathering line, in a local paper of general circulation a notice describing the project, the expected timeline for completion, and a map showing the affected areas. This notice shall be published at least once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks before commencement of any construction of regulated natural gas line, or the initiation of condemnation proceedings.
c. Proof of ownership or other right of entry onto the property on which the gathering line is to be constructed or operated. Where the right-to-enter and construct gas gathering lines is contested, the Council believes firmly that the agency has no business issuing a permit in such an instance, but rather must await an adjudication by a court of competent jurisdiction of the validity of the instrument(s) upon which right-of-entry is alleged to rest.
d. Submittal of a plan, bearing the signature of the landowner approving the plan and including:
(i) A narrative description of the location of all areas to be disturbed, including the location of all roads and gathering lines. Accompanying this narrative description shall be a plat depicting the location of the land of all of these disturbances or facilities;
(ii) A proposal to prevent eroding of and sedimentation from the construction of the gathering line, including all disturbed areas;
(iii) A plan to coordinate the timing of the operation to accommodate seasonal uses of the land by the surface owner and the need of the operator to locate the gathering line expeditiously; (iv) A plan to minimize the impact on the other uses of the land by the surface owner, including the use of timber, houses, barns, ponds, crops, and other improvements and (v) A plan for timely, effective reclamation of all disturbed areas.
e. A prohibition against location of a natural gas gathering line within three hundred (300) feet of any building used as a primary residence without the written consent of the property owner of that building.
f. All gathering lines shall be buried at least two (2) feet below the natural level of the terrain unless the landowner has waived the requirement to bury the line, or burial of the line is demonstrated to be infeasible for topographic and geologic reasons.. A line marker shall be placed every 500 feet on the surface indicating the underground pipe and maintained as close as practical over each buried line.
g. A requirement that at all times during the construction, and operation of natural gas gathering lines, the person owning or operating such gas lines shall at its own expense maintain in force a general comprehensive liability insurance policy. The coverage represented by such a policy or policies shall cover any bodily injury, death and property damage due to the activities of the natural gas line operator.
h. A requirement that each operator of a regulated natural gas gathering line shall submit for approval and implement a continuous program of emergency response preparedness and training which addresses the following:
(i) Emergency plans. Each operator shall establish written procedures to minimize hazard resulting from a regulated natural gas gathering line emergency. At a minimum, procedures shall provide for the following:
1) Receiving, identifying, and classifying notices of events that require immediate response by the operator.
2) Establishing and maintaining adequate means of communication with appropriate fire, police, and other public officials.
3) Prompt and effective response to a notice of each type of emergency, including gas, fire, explosion or natural disaster near or involving a building with the regulated natural gas pipeline or related facility.
4) Availability of personnel, equipment, tools, and materials, as needed at the scene of emergency.
5) Actions directed toward protecting people first and then property.
6) Emergency shutdown and pressure reduction in any section of the operator's gathering line or pipeline system necessary to minimize hazards to life or property.
7) Making safe any actual or potential hazard to life or property.
8) Notifying appropriate fire, police and other public officials of natural gas pipeline emergencies and coordinating with them, both planned responses and actual responses during an emergency.
(ii) Each operator shall:
1) Furnish its supervisors who are responsible for emergency action a copy of that portion of the latest edition of emergency procedures established under paragraph (a) of this subsection as necessary for compliance with those procedures.
2) Train appropriate operating personnel in emergency procedures and verify that training is effective.
3) Review employee activities to determine whether procedures were effectively followed in each emergency.
4) Provide for training of all local emergency response teams.
(iii) Each operation shall establish and maintain liaison with appropriate fire, police, and other public officials to:
1. Learn the responsibility and resources of each government organization that may respond to a gas line emergency;
2. Acquaint officials with the operator's ability to respond to a regulated natural gas gathering line emergency;
3. Identify types of natural gas gathering line emergencies of which the operator notifies officials; and
4. Plan how the operator and officials can engage in mutual assistance to minimize hazards to life or property.
i. Any section of gathering line that becomes unsafe shall be replaced, repaired, or removed. The line shall be removed and all disturbed areas restored and revegetated when no longer in continuous use for a period of over thirty (30) days.
J. All maps, designs and plans submitted should be certified by a registered professional engineer or geologist, as appropriate; and the maps and plans should be of sufficient scale to allow ready identification of features and property lines.
k. The application should bear the certification of an authorized principal of the business entity submitting the application, attesting under oath that the information is true and correct to the best of the affiant?s information after reasonable inquiry.
l. The operations and reclamation proposal should require the applicant to briefly identify and describe the methods to be employed to protect surface waters and to prevent contamination of land resources from the construction, use, maintenance and
removal of the gathering lines.
m. A revegetation plan addressing restoration of disturbed areas to pre-operation levels of productivity, and of a diverse, effective, permanent vegetative cover.
n. Notice should be provided to the surface landowner in the event that transfer of a well is proposed, since the authority to conduct such operations may be personal to the permittee, and further because the landowner should have the right to review and determine the sufficiency of the transfer documentation.
o. Notice to and coordination of line location and crossing of public roads with local governments should be required.
p. Setback requirements to protect public and other occupied buildings from explosion and other risks, should be imposed.
These comments are necessarily preliminary in nature, and may be supplemented as we proceed towards a regulation. I urge your agency to move expeditiously to implement regulations both with respect to gathering line siting, but also the larger regulatory mandate contained in the 2003 legislation.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments.