State Pipeline Safety Website Transparency Review

 

Map of the results of our 2018 transparency review. Green states have “excellent” websites. Yellow states have “good” websites, orange states have “passing” websites and red states have “failing” websites. Note: California PUC, which is responsible for gas pipelines received a score of “good” in the 2018 review while California Fire Marshal, which is responsible for hazardous liquid pipelines received a score of “failing.”

 

Each year, the Trust conducts a review of each state’s pipeline safety website, as well as PHMSA, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, to determine the amount of publicly available information. Alaska and Hawai’i do not have agreements with PHMSA to execute inspections so they are not included in our review.
This annual transparency review considers a number of factors including:

  • Ease of finding the state agency’s website and contact information for agency staff;
  • Accessibility of state statutes and rules, and federal statutes and rules;
  • The description of the scope of the state’s authority (and lack of authority);
  • Existence of transmission pipeline maps and operator contact information;
  • Availability of inspection records, and incident, enforcement and excavation damage data; and
  • Information about siting and routing of new pipelines.

Much of pipeline safety regulation and inspection is left to the states through agreements with PHMSA. When the public is wondering about pipelines near their homes, they will often reach out to their state first to see how pipelines are regulated and the risks posed by pipelines. For this reason, we believe it is vital to have certain information available to the public on these state websites and our annual transparency review shows which states are sharing this information with the public and which are not.

In our review, there are 33 points possible. We consider any score below 17 points to be failing, 17-24 points is passing, 25 points or more is good, and a perfect score is excellent.

In 2017, we offered states an opportunity to have their websites reviewed in our state pipeline safety website auditing program. With these audits, states that chose to participate received individualized recommendations for how to improve what they presented on their website and how they presented information to the public. In our first year, 15 states participated in our audit program and we saw the number of states with passing scores increase during our 2017 review from 19 to 21.
This year, another eight states participated in our audit program and we are pleased to report that the number of states with passing scores increased from 21 to 28 in our 2018 transparency review. Of special note are the performances of Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, New York Department of Public Service, and Montana Public Service Commission who increased their scores by 12 or more points over last year’s review. Of those four “most improved,” New York deserves special mention for going from the failing category to good, and Montana brought its site up by a whopping 20 points, completely reworking it into an elegant, informative, easy to use site!

Thank you to all 23 states who have already participated in our pipeline safety website audit program! If you’re interested in finding out more about our auditing or transparency review program, please contact Rebecca Craven at Rebecca@pstrust.org.

 

2018 Website Review Results and Criteria

Previous Website Review Results and Criteria