Committee approves Shuster, Denham measure to improve nation’s pipeline infrastructure

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday that was introduced by U.S. Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) to enhance the nation’s pipeline infrastructure.

The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act, H.R. 4937, would reauthorize for four years the Department of Transportation pipeline safety program that is overseen by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Additionally, the bill would close current gaps in federal standards, improve the rulemaking process, promote better use of data and technology, enhance regulatory certainty, and make the nation’s pipeline infrastructure safer.

“We have a responsibility and opportunity to ensure the efficiency and safety of the 2.6 million miles of pipelines transporting energy resources to Americans across the country,” Denham, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said. “This bipartisan legislation requires PHMSA to complete mandated safety requirements and to evaluate and report to Congress on their rulemaking process, making our pipelines safer than ever before. I’m pleased to see so much support in the committee for this bill.”

Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that pipelines are critical to the Pennsylvania’s economy, as well as the nation’s economy.

“Moving energy products safely and efficiently improves our quality of life, keeps energy costs more affordable, and leads to significant job creation,” Shuster said. “The PIPES Act continues to build upon the pipeline safety advances we’ve been making in the U.S., improves our pipeline transportation system, and provides more regulatory certainty.  We look forward to working with the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate to complete a final bill this year.”

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) successfully included provisions in the bill that would require the secretary of transportation to designate the Great Lakes as USA ecological resources, which would require more stringent management and integrity practices.

“(The provisions) will also require that emergency spill response plans include procedures for waterways and shorelines that contain ice coverage, which provides additional protections to the unique environment of the Great Lakes,” Miller said. “In the swift currents of the Straits of Mackinac, St. Clair River and other areas in the Great Lakes, any oil spill would quickly become catastrophic in itself, let alone under the partial to full ice coverage that occurs on the Great Lakes every winter. It is in our best interest, then, to ensure we have emergency response plans for all contingencies, particularly those for unique environments such as the Great Lakes.”

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