Capitol Comments

Please join CSG for an upcoming on webinar on addressing cyber security threats in the Smart Grid. The webinar is schedule for April 26th at 2 PM Eastern and will feature policy experts from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) that will share how the utility industry is preparing to meet current and future cyber threats.

Nebraska's unicameral legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation by a vote of 44-5 that would allow the state to begin its study to re-route a section of the Keystone XL pipeline that originally ran through the Sandhills region. TransCanada, the company constructing the project, would reimburse the state up to $2 million dollars for its review.

Governor Martin O'Malley is poised to sign into law the nation's first ban on chicken feed containing trace amounts of arsenic. The legislation would prohibit the use of roxarsone, a drug used to promote growth and combat parasites, from being given to poultry. Proponents of the legislation hailed its passage as a way to improve public health and to help potentially remove arsenic from seeping into the Chesapeake Bay. Those opposed, including the state's poultry industry, say the legislation is unnecessary as the drug's manufacturer -Pfizer- stopped production a year ago and that a full ban could have significant economic consequences for Maryland farmers. 

Today's Wall Street Journal features a prominent story chronicling the number of local municipalities challenging state laws prohibiting them from regulating oil and gas drilling.The trend underscores an inherent tension between states seeking to provide regulatory certainty (not to mention a steady stream of tax revenue) with localities that believe they should have more control over zoning and development in or near their town borders.

On April 2, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to determine the adequacy of state pipeline damage prevention programs. PHMSA anticipates “[t]he … benefit of this rulemaking action is an increased deterrent to violations of One-Call requirements” by directing any excavation work to first use 811, the National Call Before You Dig Number, before a project begins. Many states have been criticized by industry and environmental groups in having weak damage prevention laws that have little effective enforcement. The move was hailed by the Association of Oil Pipe Lines CEO, Andy Black, "“Liquid pipeline operators support strong damage prevention plans to prevent others excavating near pipelines from exploiting loopholes that can lead to accident or injury.”