Denham, Shuster introduce bill to secure, enhance nation’s pipeline infrastructure

Legislation introduced last week by U.S. Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) would take steps to enhance the nation’s pipeline network.

The Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipes and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act, H.R. 4937, would reauthorize the Department of Transportation’s (DoT) pipeline safety program for four years. The measure would also close loopholes in federal standards, make the rulemaking process more timely, leverage data and technology to enhance pipeline safety, and provide pipeline regulatory certainty going forward.

“Pipelines represent a crucial part of our national infrastructure, and millions of American families depend on safe pipelines for transportation of the crucial energy resources that fuel their homes and cars,” Denham, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said. “The PIPES Act will help create the safest pipeline system in history by closing gaps in federal standards and improving our ability to make effective safety rules.”

The DoT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the nation’s network of 2.6 million miles of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines.

Under the PIPES Act, the PHMSA would be directed to set minimum safety standards for underground storage of natural gas. The legislation also authorizes PHMSA to issue emergency orders. Additionally, the bill would ensure that pipeline operators receive timely post-inspection reports.

The PHMSA would also be directed to update Congress every 60 days on outstanding statutory mandates to make the rulemaking process timelier.

“Pipelines are critical to the economy of central and southwestern Pennsylvania, and the entire country,” Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said. “Moving energy products safely and efficiently improves our quality of life, keeps energy costs more affordable, and leads to significant job creation. The PIPES Act continues to improve our pipeline transportation system, provides more regulatory certainty, and carries on the work we began in the last pipeline safety bill in 2011. We look forward to working with the Energy and Commerce Committee as we move toward House passage of this critical reauthorization.”

The PIPES Act would also request a review of the effectiveness and integrity of pipeline management programs by the Government Accountability Office, require a study on innovations in non-corrosive pipeline materials and create a working group to develop recommendations in the future.

The bipartisan measure was cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Michael Capuano (D-MA), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

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