The Texas Railroad Commission, in response to a law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013, is proposing long-overdue regulations for so-called 'gathering pipelines.
Gathering pipelines collect oil or natural gas from wells and connect it to processing facilities or tanks miles away. Texas now has over 6,000 miles of these pipelines and their number has grown by 33% in the last 3 years alone. The pipelines are also increasing in size – from mere inches to as much as three feet in diameter. While gathering lines were once found mostly in sparsely populated rural areas, many of them are now clustered in or near major cities.
These pipelines are a demonstrated threat to public safety. In 2010, a construction crew severed a pipeline and caused an explosion that killed two workers. In 2013, a dozen homes in East Texas had to be evacuated following a rupture and fire. In 2018, a natural gas gathering pipeline exploded near Cuero, melting power lines and part of a road.
All pipelines, now matter how large or small, are subject to leaks and ruptures that could contaminate water and put endanger public safety. It's past time that these be regulated in the interest of public health!