State Pipeline Safety Website Transparency Review
Most state governments in this country regulate some aspect of pipelines within their state, but which pipelines they regulate, and how they go about it varies a good deal. Finding information online about their efforts and the pipelines they regulate can be difficult. During the summer of 2011, the Pipeline Safety Trust caused quite a kerfuffle by surveying all the different state websites and scoring them based on things that citizens most likely would like to find. You can see how your state has rated on the charts below.
That first year, our staff compared state regulator websites, and looked for seven key pieces of information. The ratings are based on how easy it was to find the items. If they were pretty easy to locate, the website got a “3”; if you had to click around a bit “2”; if you needed to know the specialized terminology or had to search for them quite a bit “1”. If they were nowhere to be found, they got a “0”.
Some states took offense with the ratings, but others, like Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska and Washington, decided providing such basic information to their citizens made good sense and upgraded their websites quickly.
We reviewed the websites again in the summer of 2012 and 2013, and added a few items that we thought were pertinent to making information easily available to the public. For example, we added a column of scores on whether we could find the right web page, either with a search engine search of “ ‘state name’ pipeline safety”, or starting from the state web page link for each state and searching for “pipeline safety”. Our detailed instructions to our reviewers for that year (both staff and volunteer) are here. Many members of the public have no idea what the name of the pipeline safety agency in their state is, and the names vary widely: Public Service Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Utilities and Transportation Commission, Corporation Commission, as well as a variety of departmental names.
The 2015 instructions for review and scoring criteria are located here. Feel free to contact us if you have questions, or work with a state pipeline safety agency that would like to improve their score.
The results of all our annual reviews are available below.