Agency responsible for protecting communities and the environment has been without permanent leadership since October
May 21 2015
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) are calling on President Obama to nominate a permanent administrator to head the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the agency responsible for overseeing pipeline and crude-by-rail safety.
“It is important to states like ours that PHMSA have a permanent administrator to ensure accountability, to develop long-term plans for pipeline transport and crude-by-rail safety, and to respond quickly when things unfortunately go wrong,” the Senators wrote. “We rely on this Agency to protect our citizens and our environment from damaging spills and accidents, while also ensuring the flow of energy products to those who need them.”
In the letter to President Obama, the Senators recognized the importance of proper oversight as gas and oil production increases, existing pipelines age, and crude-by-rail safety continues to be a concern.
PHMSA has operated without a permanent administrator since October, making it difficult for Congress to hold the agency accountable for keeping over 2.6 million miles of pipelines carrying crude oil, natural gas, and other hazardous substances safe. The letter also notes that nominating a permanent administrator will help improve crude-by-rail oversight.
Congress increased funding for PHMSA in December, allowing the agency to hire approximately 130 more employees. The President requested an additional $30 million for PHMSA in his 2016 budget proposal.
The Senators’ letter to the President is available here.