Environmental groups call on state to tighten pipeline regulations

2013-06-27T13:17:00Z Environmental groups call on state to tighten pipeline regulationsLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

The Hoosier Environmental Council and the Pipeline Safety Trust on Thursday urged state officials to enact more stringent regulations of fuel pipelines traversing the state.

During a media Webinar, the groups said Indiana should regulate interstate pipelines as well as intrastate pipelines, adopt a law requiring full public interest review, and require state approval of facility response plans and rules for public participation and approval of plans prior to state approval.

Currently, the state inspects and has some regulatory authority over intrastate pipelines, but a host of federal agencies oversee interstate pipelines.

The groups spoke at length about the Enbridge Energy LP Line 6B project. The company plans to build a new pipeline adjacent to the existing pipeline running from Griffith to Sarnia, Ontario. The existing line will be deactivated, purged, filled with nitrogen and left in place.

Kim Ferraro, staff attorney and director of water policy for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said the Enbridge 6B plan has the potential to impact 185 wetlands and 82 waterbodies in the state.

The Hoosier Environmental Council asked Indiana to require Enbridge to hire an independent environmental monitor as part of the water permitting process. A similar provision in Wisconsin led to the discovery of 545 environmental violations by Enbridge and a fine of $1.1 million paid to the state.

"We have asked IDEM to do that on the Line 6B project and IDEM has required that but only for a portion of the project in LaPorte County, not the entire project," Ferraro said.

Calls for more stringent regulatory standards at the federal and state level have come from Save the Dunes and a host of other Great Lakes environmental groups, with little response from lawmakers.

Ferraro said discussions with U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, Indiana Sen. Karin Tallian, D-Portage, and U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelley, D-Granger, were unsuccessful.

"We were not able to get a lot of traction this session to address these issues," Ferraro said.

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