The approximately 50,000 miles of pipelines traversing Louisiana are beginning to garner additional attention due to the increasing demand for pipelines as a result of the growing supply of natural gas in the state.
The Louisiana Legislature considered several pipeline-related bills in the 2014 Regular Session, ranging from landowner compensation for expropriation of property for pipeline use to remediation of abandoned intrastate pipelines. Neither of these bills moved past the Legislature.
Although most pipeline-related bills did not become law, their introduction likely signals a move toward additional laws and regulations in the future. This expected oversight is confirmed by Louisiana House Resolution No. 143, which requests the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Commissioner of Conservation “to conduct a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of pipelines inadequately covered and no longer buried as originally designed or permitted and to make recommendations for any necessary statutory, rule, regulation, or policy change.”
The Resolution also calls for an assessment of the Department of Natural Resources’ and Commissioner of Conservation’s regulatory authority to enforce any proposed action. A report of this assessment is due March 2015 and its conclusions may have a profound impact in the near future.
Looking to the present, Senate Bill No. 525 did become law and provides that if proceedings are filed to abandon an interstate pipeline before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and any segment of pipeline proposed to be abandoned in such filing is geographically located wholly within the state of Louisiana, such pipeline shall be considered an intrastate pipeline as of the date such proceeding is filed with FERC, and shall be within the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC).
Additionally, abandonment proceedings shall take place before the PSC for such pipeline segment, beginning as of the date of filing, to be handled pursuant to the rules and regulations of the PSC. This new law will presumably only apply to natural gas pipelines under FERC authority. Also, it is unclear as to how this bill will co-exist with FERC jurisdiction to allow abandonment of service, which may preempt state law on this topic.