Where Have All the Pipelines Gone?

A new bill making its way through the California state assembly aims to include gas pipeline and hazardous liquid disclosures as a part of the mandatory filings in all real estate transactions. The only problem is that nobody, not even the gas companies, has an accurate map of the pipelines.

So how can legislators possibly enforce this law when they don’t even know where the pipelines are located? How can they hold agents responsible for disclosing information that the gas companies don’t even know?

One of California’s gas companies acknowledged recently that they cannot say with certainty where some 5000 miles of pipes are located. 5000 miles! That’s equivalent to the drive from Los Angeles to New York and halfway back again!

In March, a California Public Utilities Commission investigation concluded that they found PG&E’s “record keeping was in a mess and had been for years.”

“Gas transmission records and safety-related documents were scattered, disorganized, duplicated and were difficult if not impossible to access in a prompt and efficient manner,” the report said. PG&E could have addressed the problems if it “had put the right people, process and systems in place over time,” it stated.

But, in fact, PG&E’s record keeping had become so lax that in the mid-1990s its pipeline history files were destroyed, apparently by accident.

Granted, PG&E is only one of the utilities that would be responsible for providing pipeline maps and data, but RE-Insider can safely assume that the problems run deeper than just one company.

From a legal point of view, this incomplete and inaccurate database of pipelines will make for a field day for aggressive lawyers. Plaintiffs will be coming out of the woodwork to challenge the maps based on unproven information.

But the biggest problem with this proposed bill isn’t the intent behind it – safety and awareness are never bad things. But without accurate and credible maps, California is just guessing about where these pipelines are really located. And I wouldn’t want the value of my home to be hurt by somebody’s guess. Would you?

Please let us know.

  • Ben

    Everyone knows that a gasline to a home is eventually fed upstream by a bigger pipe somewhere in the near vicinity. It is called infrastructure. If you want to pass a bill require regular maintaince and improvement of pipelines. The Canada to Texas pipeline scares me due to the failures we have seen lately.

  • Marcy

    My exact thoughts on this….. Sue crazy people will have a field day with this and I only foresee this hurting our economy more than it is hurting already!  I have worked at a utility company many years ago and I remember how bad record keeping was.  We use to work off application that were handwritten and with many errors on them.  And then this information was either misfiled or lost over the years.  
    If it will affect the lives and health of people, then I am proactive but to make this mandatory for us, is just a recipe for disaster.
    Please come up with a much better idea to earn revenue.

  • It would be kind to label the legislator’s efforts “good intentions,” but this effort shows them as out of touch. Honestly, do legislators equate their worth by the number of laws they dream up?

    Reminds me of the hair stylist who when asked why they cut off so much more hair then the horrified client wanted, said, “I have to give you enough cut to earn my fee.”

  • justme

    that’s california for u…..

  • James Durand

    Because our assembly men and women are complete idiots. 
    That’s why we are in the mess we’re in.  I don’t get how Californians keep
    sending these idiots back to mess up the state some more.  It’s

  • Realtor Stan

    I know some people think we ‘do magic’ but we can’t on this

  • Maxie Johns

    Gas lines should be included on the NHD report, however there should be
    something showing the distance within the 2000’ and the size or age of the
    lines in question. My aunt was injured badly by a gas explosion in Texas, and
    we all should keep informed if the information can be made available.

  • Jamie the Realtor

    Every time we turn around the government is in our pockets.  
    They assume we are incapable of making rational and common sense decisions.   NO

  • Scottie

    I think to provide that report is good for every body
    specially for the buyers 

  • Jeanne Goswell

    The gas companies need to stop being so greedy and figure out where all the pipelines are themselves and then they can be included in RE maps. Otherwise, they should be the ones getting fined for breaking the law. Besides, when you do surveys it’s not like those pipes are easy to check if they are there or not, so a lot of people might get sued per transaction and it would be a waste of county, state, and possibly federal resources.