As I noted last week, Sen. Roberts (R,KS) introduced S 763, the Underground Gas Storage Facility Safety Act of 2013. This bill establishes limited State authority to establish and enforce regulations concerning the safe construction and operation of underground reservoirs for the storage of gas or hazardous liquids.
Section 2 of the bill amends the definitions found in 49 USC 60101(a). First it re-orders subparagraphs 20 thru 25 so that the terms are in standard alphabetical order. It then adds definitions for the following new terms:
• Underground gas storage wellbore; and
• Underground hazardous liquid storage wellbore.
Section 3 amends 49 USC 60104(c) dealing with preemption. It rewrites paragraph (c) into three sub-paragraphs and adds 49 USC 60104(c)(3)(B) that specifically allows a State authority to “enforce a State requirement for the safe construction and operation of underground gas storage wellbores and underground hazardous liquid storage wellbores” under two conditions. The first condition is if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) specifically approves the requirement. The second condition is if FERC fails to act on a State petition for approval of a requirement within 30 days of the request being submitted.
This is a new piece of legislation without a history in either the Senate or House. This makes it difficult to predict what actions will be taken in either body. The bill has been referred to the Commerce Science and Transportation Committee for consideration, but neither Roberts nor his co-sponsor Sen. Moran (R,KS), serve on that Committee so it will be difficult for them to convince Chairman Rockefeller (D,WV) to schedule the required hearings to move the bill forward.