CHAPTER 24B. GAS PIPELINE SAFETY.
WVC 24 B- 1 -
ARTICLE 1. PURPOSE AND DEFINITIONS.
WVC 24 B- 1 - 1
It is hereby declared to be the purpose and policy of the
Legislature in enacting this chapter to empower the public
service commission of West Virginia, in addition to all other
powers conferred and duties imposed upon it by law, to prescribe
and enforce safety standards for pipeline facilities as
hereinafter defined, and to regulate safety practices of persons
engaged in the transportation of gas or hazardous liquids as
WVC 24 B- 1 - 2
When used in this chapter:
(1) "Person" means any individual, firm, joint venture,
partnership, corporation, association, state, municipality,
cooperative association or joint-stock association, and includes
any trustee, receiver, assignee or personal representative thereof;
(2) "Gas" means natural gas, flammable gas or gas which is
toxic or corrosive;
(3) "Transportation of gas" means the gathering, transmission
or distribution of gas by pipeline or its storage;
(4) "Hazardous liquid" means:
(a) Petroleum or any petroleum product; and
(b) Any substance or material which is in liquid state
(excluding liquefied natural gas) when transported by pipeline
facilities and which, as determined by the commission, may pose an
unreasonable risk to life or property when transported by pipeline
facilities: Provided, That a hazardous liquid as herein defined
shall not be construed so as to include or permit the regulation of
any substance transported through pipeline or otherwise when used
in the operation of coal mines, coal processing plants or coal
slurry pipelines: Provided, however, That the commission shall not
determine that any substance or material is a hazardous liquid
under this section if the secretary has not determined that the
substance or material is a hazardous liquid under regulations
promulgated in accordance with Section 202(2) of the Hazardous
Liquid Pipeline Safety Act of 1979;
(5) "Transportation of hazardous liquids" means the movement of hazardous liquids by pipeline, or their storage incidental to
such movements; except that it shall not include any such movement
through gathering lines in rural locations or on shore production,
refining or manufacturing facilities or storage or in-plant piping
systems associated with any of such facilities;
(6) "Pipeline facilities" means, without limitation, new and
existing pipe, pipe rights-of-way and any equipment, facility, or
building used in the transportation of gas or the treatment of gas
during the course of transportation, or used in the transportation
of hazardous liquid or the treatment of hazardous liquid during the
course of transportation; but "rights-of-way" as used in this
chapter does not authorize the commission to prescribe the location
or routing of any pipeline facility;
(7) "Municipality" means a city, county or any other political
subdivision of the state;
(8) "Interstate transmission facilities" means facilities used
in the transportation of gas which are subject to the jurisdiction
of the federal power commission under the act of Congress known as
the Natural Gas Act;
(9) "Interstate pipeline facilities" means the pipeline
facilities used in the transportation of hazardous liquids in
interstate or foreign commerce;
(10) "Director" means the director of the gas pipeline safety
section of the commission;
(11) "Commission" means the public service commission of West
(12) "Secretary" means the United States secretary of transportation;
(13) "Pipeline company" means a person engaged in the
operation of pipeline facilities or the transportation of gas or
hazardous liquids subject to the provisions of this chapter;
(14) "Act of 1968" means the act of Congress known as the
Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968; and
(15) "Act of 1979" means the act of Congress known as the
"Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act of 1979."
WVC 24 B- 2 -
ARTICLE 2. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION.
WVC 24 B- 2 - 1
The commission shall have power and authority to prescribe
and enforce safety standards for pipeline facilities, and to
regulate safety practices of persons engaged in the
transportation of gas or hazardous liquids, to the extent
permitted by the "Act of 1968" and the "Act of 1979" and any
amendments thereto. Such standards may apply to the design,
installation, inspection, testing, construction, extension,
operation, replacement and maintenance of pipeline facilities.
Standards affecting the design, installation, construction,
initial inspection and initial testing shall not be applicable to
pipeline facilities in existence on the date such standards are
adopted. Whenever the commission shall find a particular facility
to be hazardous to life or property, it shall be empowered to
require the person operating such facility to take such steps
necessary to remove such hazards. Such safety standards shall be
practicable and designed to meet the need for pipeline safety.
In prescribing such standards, the commission shall consider:
(a) Relevant available pipeline safety data;
(b) Whether such standards are appropriate for the
particular type of pipeline transportation;
(c) The reasonableness of any proposed standards; and
(d) The extent to which such standards will contribute to
WVC 24 B- 2 - 2
§24B-2-2. Rules and regulations.
The commission shall prescribe such rules and regulations as
it may deem proper for the enforcement of the provisions of this
chapter without distinction based on the interstate or intrastate
character of the person, thing or activity to which such rules
and regulations apply.
WVC 24 B- 2 - 3
§24B-2-3. General investigatory powers.
The commission shall have power to investigate all methods
and practices of pipeline companies; to require the maintenance
and filing of reports, records and other information in such form
and detail as the commission may prescribe; to enter upon and to
inspect the property, buildings, plants, and offices of such
pipeline companies; and to inspect books, records, papers and
documents relevant to the enforcement of this chapter.
WVC 24 B- 2 - 4
§24B-2-4. Cooperation with the federal government.
The commission shall cooperate with the secretary and other
agencies of the United States in the enforcement of this chapter
and the "Act of 1968" and amendments thereto; and to this end,
the commission shall take such steps as may be necessary to make
annual certifications to the secretary under section five (a) of
the "Act of 1968," and shall file such certificates with the
secretary. The commission is hereby authorized and empowered (a)
to act as the secretary's agent in the enforcement of the "Act of
1968" and amendments thereto with respect to interstate
transmission facilities; and (b) to accept for the state of West
Virginia, and to expend for the purpose designated, any funds
that may hereafter be made available to the commission out of the
federal treasury by an act or acts of Congress and allocated to
this state for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this
chapter and the "Act of 1968" and amendments thereto.
The commission shall further cooperate with the secretary
and other agencies of the United States in the enforcement of the
"Act of 1979" and amendments thereto; and to this end the
commission shall take such steps as may be necessary to make
annual certifications to the secretary under section two hundred
five-a of the "Act of 1979" and shall file such certificates with
the secretary. The commission is hereby authorized and
empowered (a) to act as the secretary's agent in the enforcement
of the "Act of 1979" and amendments thereto with respect to
interstate pipeline facilities; and (b) to accept for the state
of West Virginia, and expend for the purpose designated, any funds that may hereafter be made available to the commission out
of the federal treasury by an act or acts of Congress and
allocated to this state for the purpose of carrying out the "Act
of 1979" and amendments thereto.
WVC 24 B- 3 -
ARTICLE 3. DUTIES OF PIPELINE COMPANIES.
WVC 24 B- 3 - 1
§24B-3-1. In general.
Every pipeline company shall comply with the provisions of
this chapter and of all valid regulations and orders issued by
WVC 24 B- 3 - 2
§24B-3-2. Inspection and maintenance plans.
Every pipeline company shall file with the commission a plan
for inspection and maintenance of the pipeline facilities owned
or operated by it, and shall subsequently file any changes in
such plan, in form and content as the commission may prescribe.
WVC 24 B- 3 - 3
§24B-3-3. Annual safety reports.
Every pipeline company shall file with the commission an
annual report showing: (1) Name and address of the pipeline
company filing the report; (2) all accidents or incidents
involving its pipeline facilities that occurred during the
preceding twelve months involving personal injury requiring
hospitalization, fatality, or property damage exceeding one
thousand dollars, together with a summary of the pipeline
company's investigation as to the cause and circumstances
surrounding such accident or incident; and (3) such other
information as the commission may require.
WVC 24 B- 3 - 4
§24B-3-4. Effect of chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall affect the common law or
statutory tort liability of any person.
WVC 24 B- 4 -
ARTICLE 4. HEARINGS; BURDEN OF PROOF; ENFORCEMENT.
WVC 24 B- 4 - 1
To carry out the purposes of this chapter, the commission is
authorized to conduct conferences, formal and informal hearings,
to make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and to enter
orders with respect to any issues that may arise under this
WVC 24 B- 4 - 2
§24B-4-2. Burden of proof.
Where an issue is made of the propriety of a plan submitted
under section two, article three hereof, the burden of proof of
the propriety of such plan shall be on the pipeline company
submitting such plan.
WVC 24 B- 4 - 3
§24B-4-3. Rules of practice and procedure.
The commission shall prescribe rules of practice and
procedure, the method and manner of holding hearings, and for
taking evidence on all matters that may come before it, and enter
such orders as may be just and lawful. In the investigations,
preparations, and hearings of cases, the commission shall not be
bound by the technical rules of pleadings and evidence, but in
that respect it may exercise such discretion as will facilitate
its efforts to understand and learn all the facts bearing upon
the right and justness of the matter before it.
WVC 24 B- 4 - 4
§24B-4-4. Witnesses; testimony; subpoena.
The commission shall, either as a commission or by any of
its members, or by designated employees, subpoena witnesses, take
testimony, administer oaths to any witness in any proceeding or
examination instituted before or conducted by it with reference
to any matter within its jurisdiction hereunder. In all hearings
or proceedings before the commission or its designated employees,
the evidence of witnesses and the production of documentary
evidence may be required at any designated place of hearing
within the state; and in the case of disobedience to a subpoena
or other process, the commission or any party to the proceedings
before the commission may invoke the aid of any circuit court in
the state in requiring the evidence and testimony of witnesses
and the production of papers, books, and documents. And such
court, in case of refusal to obey this subpoena issued to any
person or other witness, shall issue an order requiring such
person or other witness to appear before the commission or
designated employees and produce books and papers, if so ordered,
and give evidence touching the matter in question. Any failure
to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as
contempt thereof. A claim that such testimonial evidence may
intend to incriminate the witness giving the same shall not
excuse any witness from testifying, but such witness shall not be
prosecuted for any offense concerning which he is compelled
hereunder to testify.
WVC 24 B- 4 - 5
§24B-4-5. Enforcement of lawful orders.
The commission may compel obedience to its lawful orders by
mandamus or injunction or other proper proceedings in the name of
the state in any circuit court having jurisdiction of the parties
or of the subject matter, or the supreme court of appeals direct.
WVC 24 B- 4 - 6
(a) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or
any valid regulation or order issued thereunder is subject to a
civil penalty to be imposed by the commission not to exceed
$200,000 for each violation for each day the violation persists:
Provided, That the maximum aggregate civil penalty may not exceed
$2 million for any related series of violations.
(b) Any civil penalty may be compromised by the commission.
In determining the amount of penalty, or the amount agreed upon in
compromise, the commission shall consider the appropriateness of
the penalty to the size of the business of the person charged, the
gravity of the violation, and the good faith of the person charged
in attempting to achieve compliance after notification of the
violation. The amount of the penalty, when finally determined, or
the amount agreed upon in compromise, may be deducted from any sums
owing by the state to the person charged or may be recovered in a
civil action in the state courts.
(c) Civil penalties collected by the commission under this
section shall be submitted to the Treasurer for deposit into the
General Revenue Fund.
(d) No civil penalty paid under this section may be considered
by the commission in support of any application for a rate increase
submitted by the violator.
WVC 24 B- 5 -
ARTICLE 5. EMPLOYEES OF COMMISSION; FUNDING.
WVC 24 B- 5 - 1
The commission shall appoint a director of the pipeline
safety section of the public service commission and such
employees as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this
chapter, and shall fix their respective salaries or compensation.
The commission may designate such employees as it deems
necessary to take evidence at any hearing held or required by the
provisions of this chapter, which employees are hereby empowered
to administer oaths in all parts of this state so far as the
exercise of such power is properly incidental to the performance
of their duties in connection with the provisions of this
WVC 24 B- 5 - 2
§24B-5-2. Compensation to commissioners.
Each member of the commission shall receive a salary in the
amount set forth in section three, article one, chapter twenty-
four of this code as compensation for the administration of this
chapter in addition to all other salary or compensation otherwise
provided for by law, to be paid in monthly installments from the
public service commission pipeline safety fund.
§24B‑5‑3. Funding; property and revenue license fees.
(a) Every pipeline company shall pay a special license fee in addition to those now required by law. The amount of such fees shall be fixed by the Public Service Commission and levied by it annually on each pipeline company at a rate of $18.60 per mile of three‑inch equivalent pipeline included in a company’s pipeline facilities. The calculation of a company’s number of miles of three-inch equivalent pipeline for the purposes of assessing fees shall be determined on the basis of the pipeline company’s reports submitted to the commission in such form as the commission may prescribe. All fees assessed pursuant to this section shall be paid on or before July 1 in each year.
(b) Such sums collected under subsection (a) of this section shall be paid into the State Treasury and kept as a special fund, designated the Public Service Commission Pipeline Safety Fund, to be appropriated as provided by law for the purpose of paying the salaries, compensation, costs and expenses of its employees to the extent of the employees’ direct involvement in the enforcement of the provisions of this article. Any balance in said fund at the end of any fiscal year shall not revert to the Treasury, but shall remain in said fund and may be appropriated as provided in this subsection. All funds which heretofore were in the Public Service Commission Gas Pipeline Safety Fund shall be transferred to the Public Service Commission Pipeline Safety Fund.
WVC 24 B- 5 - 3
§24B-5-3. Funding; property and revenue license fees.
(a) Every pipeline company shall pay a special license fee in
addition to those now required by law. The amount of such fees
shall be fixed by the Public Service Commission and levied by it
upon each of such pipeline companies according to the number of
three-inch equivalent pipeline miles included in its pipeline
facilities and shall be apportioned among such pipeline companies
upon the basis of the pipeline companies' reports submitted to the
commission in such form as the commission may prescribe, so as to
produce a revenue of not more than $385,000 per annum, which fees
shall be paid on or before July 1 in each year.
(b) Such sums collected under subsection (a) of this section
shall be paid into the State Treasury and kept as a special fund,
designated the Public Service Commission Pipeline Safety Fund, to
be appropriated as provided by law for the purpose of paying the
salaries, compensation, costs and expenses of its employees to the
extent of the employees' direct involvement in the enforcement of
the provisions of this article. Any balance in said fund at the
end of any fiscal year shall not revert to the Treasury, but shall
remain in said fund and may be appropriated as provided in this
subsection. All funds which heretofore were in the Public Service
Commission Gas Pipeline Safety Fund shall be transferred to the
Public Service Commission Pipeline Safety Fund.
WVC 24 B- 6 -
ARTICLE 6. JUDICIAL REVIEW; NATURE OF COMMISSION'S POWERS.
WVC 24 B- 6 - 1
§24B-6-1. Appeal from commission's action.
Any party feeling aggrieved by the entry of a final order by
the commission, affecting him or it, may present a petition in
writing to the supreme court of appeals, or to a judge thereof in
vacation, within thirty days after the entry of such order,
praying for the suspension of such final order. The petitioner
shall deliver a copy of such petition to the secretary of the
commission before presenting the same to the court or the judge.
The court or judge shall fix a time for the hearing on the
petition, but such hearing, unless by agreement of the parties,
shall not be held sooner than five days after its presentation;
and notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be
forthwith delivered to the secretary of the commission, so that
the commission may be represented at such hearing by one or more
of its members or by counsel. If the court or the judge after
such hearing be of the opinion that a suspending order should
issue, the court or the judge may require bond, upon such
conditions and in such penalty, and impose such terms and
conditions upon the petitioner, as are just and reasonable. For
such hearing the commission shall file with the clerk of said
court all papers, documents, evidence and records or certified
copies thereof as were before the commission at the hearing or
investigation resulting in the entry of the order from which the
petitioner appeals. The commission shall file with the court
before the day fixed for the final hearing a written statement of
its reasons for the entry of such order, and after arguments by
counsel the court shall decide the matter in controversy as may seem to be just and right.
WVC 24 B- 6 - 2
§24B-6-2. Commission's powers additional in nature.
The powers conferred and duties imposed upon the commission
by this chapter are in addition to, and not in derogation of, the
powers conferred and duties imposed upon the commission by
chapter twenty-four and chapter twenty-four-a of the code.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.