State Program Websites Transparency Ranking
State Website Transparency
Each year, the Trust conducts a review of each* state’s pipeline safety website, as well as the District of Columbia’s, to determine the amount of publicly available information and how accessible it is to members of the public.
This annual transparency review considers several factors including:
- Ease of finding the state agency’s website and contact information for agency staff;
- Accessibility of state and federal statutes and rules;
- The description of what the state agency regulates and does not regulate;
- Presence 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 to learn about 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 on a total of 11 different criteria. We consider below 17 points to be failing, 17-24 points to be passing, 25-32 points to be good, and a perfect score of 33 points is excellent. We are very pleased to note that 20 state programs now score at 22 or higher, meaning their scores average 2 or better on each of our criteria. In our first review nearly a decade ago, only 3 states performed that well, and easily half the programs scored under an average of one point per criteria. The improvement in providing the public information is worth celebrating!
Over the last couple of years, we have provided states the opportunity to participate 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. Many of the states have chosen to participate in this opportunity since it began, and we have continued to provide feedback on websites to any state program that asks. Three states this year took advantage of this opportunity and were able to work to improve their sites. Virginia increased its score by 16 to a total of 22; Nebraska improved by 24 points to 29 points and the California Public Utilities Commission (regulating gas in California) improved by 27 to reach 32 points.
Overall, we are so pleased with the improvement shown over the last ten years, and with the dedication from state pipeline safety regulators to improve public access to this information. Thank you to all of the states who have already participated in our pipeline safety website audit program or who have improved their sites on their own!
If we decide to change anything within the scoring system, we will be sure to provide a revised set of criteria before we begin our review next year. If you’re interested in finding out more about our auditing or transparency review program, please contact Amanda McKay at .
* We review each program that has a certification from PHMSA or an interstate agency agreement. California has two separate agencies, Alaska and Hawai’i have no PHMSA-certified programs. We were unable to obtain a translator to review the Puerto Rico site this year.
2022 Website Review Results and Criteria
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies – 2022 Report
Previous Website Review Results and Criteria
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies – 2020 – sorted alphabetically
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies – 2020 – sorted by score
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies – 2018
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies and Puerto Rico – 2017
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies, PHMSA, and Puerto Rico – 2016
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies & PHMSA – 2015
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies & PHMSA – 2014
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies & PHMSA – 2013
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies & PHMSA – 2012
- Public Transparency by State Pipeline Safety Agencies & PHMSA – 2011 (website review updated 2/1/12)