Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance

Final Report of the Independent Review Panel - November 2010

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Link to the report

Noteworthy Quotations

Page 1: "The Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) is a stakeholder initiative led and supported by the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PIPA's goal is to reduce risks and improve the safety of affected communities and transmission pipelines through implementation of recommended practices related to risk-informed land use and development near transmission pipelines."

Page 2: "the PIPA initiative focuses exclusively on transmission pipelines"

Page 1: "Federal regulations attempt to mitigate the risk of transmission pipelines located in more densely-populated areas by imposing more stringent requirements. For example, gas transmission pipelines located in heavily populated urban areas are generally required to adhere to additional design, operation, and maintenance requirements."
Our pipeline was built more than 60 years ago, when the area was completely rural. Now, it runs through homes, along apartments, and under schools. How could the pipeline possibly have been built in this 1940 rural area to satisfy 2012 urban area requirements? It must also be remembered that this is an earthquake zone.

Page 37: "A transmission pipeline operator may desire to use the land within the boundaries of the easement in a manner that was not allowed in the original easement agreement. ... To do so, the transmission pipeline operator will need to consult with the property owner to gain permission to perform the desired activity or use. If permission is granted, the agreement may be documented in the form of an easement amendment. ... There may be additional compensation provided to the landowner based on the value of the land in exchange for the new rights."
PG&E clearly recognizes the need for each homeowner to sign an amendment to our easement agreement, but it believes that re-interpreting its rights in a fashion that completely upends our lives deserves no compensation.

Page 43: "Transmission pipeline operators should communicate in a documented and timely manner with property developers/owners to prevent or rectify unacceptable encroachments or inappropriate human activity within the transmission pipeline right-of-way."
We agree. Prescriptive easements require such notification within a 5 year period. PG&E has waited 60 years before communicating its intent. After 60 years, current homeowners have lived for decades with expectations. It is too late for PG&E to demand that the agreement does not allow trees, since the agreement clearly does allow trees and PG&E has allowed them for 60 years. How can 60 years be considered timely?

Page 50: "The existence of a transmission pipeline easement on a property should be made clear to all prospective purchasers to enable them to make informed decisions concerning the risks. Though the existence of an easement is typically noted in real estate closing papers or title reports, purchasers can be unaware that the easement is for a transmission pipeline. The disclosure language should make clear that the pipeline easement is for a transmission pipeline."
Our deeds and title reports failed to note this important point. Almost none of us knew that there is a gas transmission pipeline in our yards until contact by PG&E in July, 2012. PG&E has allowed trees and sheds in the easement land for decades, never bothering to notify homeowners that sheds are not allowed. Trees are allowed, according to the easement agreement. Is it any wonder that when we bought our homes, the sight of huge trees and sheds might have led us to believe that trees and sheds are allowed on our land?