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July 18, 2013

New York PSC Revisits Odorization Requirement for Gathering Lines

During today’s regular session, the New York Public Service Commission (“PSC”) considered an operator’s request for a waiver of the regulations requiring odorization for gathering lines.  As we previously reported (, during its last session meeting, the PSC staunchly confirmed that its regulations require gathering lines to be odorized and that alternatives such as line markers, increased leakage surveys, volume/pressure monitoring, and methane monitors are not suitable substitutes. Contemporaneously to the waiver request, the PSC also considered the operator’s petition to amend its Certificates of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (“Certificates”) to amend the maximum allowable operating pressure for its gathering lines to 300 psig which, in turn, would omit the need for the gathering lines to be tested and operated in accordance with the provisions of 16 NYCRR Part 255 applicable to steel transmission lines, specifically, the odorization requirement. After reporting that Staff has brought a special proceeding against the operator in State Supreme Court, Albany County, as authorized during the last PSC session, Staff presented the waiver request and recommended that it be denied, particularly since the request proposed the same alternatives previously rejected by the PSC.  With respect to the request to amend the operator’s Certificates, Staff recommended that it be granted, subject to the caveat that the regulations applicable to all gathering lines would still apply, including the requirement that they be odorized when in close proximity (150 feet) to an existing residence of place of assembly. Once again the PSC unanimously adopted Staff’s recommendations and reiterated the need for odorization.  In doing so, the PSC highlighted the absolute need to protect public safety and noted that, on this issue, there is no fundamental difference between gathering lines and interstate pipelines.  The PSC also inquired about what other states and the federal government were doing and expressed the desire to be a leader on this issue. The take away is that, once again, the PSC has confirmed in no uncertain terms that it will not compromise on its odorization requirement for natural gas pipelines.


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