Bipartisan Bill Reauthorizes PHMSA, Strengthens Pipeline Safety Resources
Washington—This evening, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a final version of legislation to help ensure the safety of America’s pipeline network. The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, also known as the PIPES Act, would reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through Fiscal Year 2019.
Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) championed the initial version of the PIPES Act, which was approved in March. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are cosponsors of the PIPES Act. The final agreement now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Senator Fischer, chairman of the Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee, released the following statement:
“I am proud to see this important pipeline safety bill head to the president’s desk. This bipartisan legislation will create a safer pipeline transportation network across our country through stronger congressional oversight and increased collaboration between stakeholders. It will also provide greater resources for state and local pipeline safety officials. These new measures will offer states better tools to address incidents like the Omaha Old Market explosion this past January.
“The PIPES Act is a major bipartisan achievement, and I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move it toward the finish line.”
Senator Booker, ranking member on the Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee, released the following statement:
“America’s pipeline infrastructure is an important part of our national energy network. The bipartisan PIPES Act will implement important oversight and accountability measures, encourage the use of new technology, and help ensure pipeline safety in communities in New Jersey and around the country. I’m pleased to celebrate the bill’s final passage today and see it sent to the President’s desk."
Senator Daines released the following statement:
“A safe, secure and efficient pipeline infrastructure is critical for energy security, creating and maintaining jobs and providing safeguards to protect the environment. It’s great news to see the passage of important bipartisan legislation that protects our economic and environmental resources."
Senator Peters released the following statement:
“We must ensure that the proper pipeline safety and oversight is in place to keep our people safe and our natural resources protected. I’m very pleased that this bill is on its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law and help safeguard against the catastrophic consequences of an oil spill in our precious waterways.”
Chairman Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, released the following statement:
“Americans rely on energy transported through our nation’s pipeline network - and its safety and certainty. The PIPES Act reforms pipeline safety and will help answer the need for more reliable access to energy. I appreciate the leadership of Senators Fischer, Booker, Daines, and Peters who introduced this legislation in the Senate that’s now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”
Senator Boxer released the following statement:
“The passage of the SAFE PIPES Act will help protect communities in California and across the country from environmental disasters like the Aliso Canyon gas leak and the Refugio State Beach oil spill.”
Senator Feinstein released the following statement:
“The SAFE PIPES Act will make sure that we apply the lessons from the Aliso Canyon disaster in California, develop safety regulations for similar facilities throughout the country and keep communities across America safe.”
The PIPES Act would reauthorize PHMSA from FY 2016 through FY 2019.
Key provisions of the bill include:
- Re-prioritizing and requiring PHMSA to complete outstanding Congressional directives from the 2011 reauthorization bill.
- Calling for minimum standards to ensure the safety of natural gas storage facilities and establishing an Aliso Canyon working group to study and report on the recent California natural gas leak that displaced hundreds of nearby families and homeowners.
- Ensuring coordination and collaboration on pipeline mapping, research, development, and technology between PHMSA, industry, and public stakeholders.
- Enabling PHMSA to hire much-needed pipeline inspectors and analysts with greater flexibility.
- Compelling PHMSA to respond to local operators regarding the preliminary results following a pipeline inspection with greater frequency.
- An assessment of PHMSA’s integrity management programs for liquid and natural gas pipelines, and additional reporting on advanced and upcoming corrosion technologies.
Senator Fischer joined Senators Booker, Daines and Peters to introduce the initial version of the bill, known as the SAFE PIPES Act in November 2015. The final bill, approved in the Senate today, combines provisions from the SAFE PIPES Act with the bills from the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
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