Senate committee approves Fischer’s bipartisan PIPES Act

A U.S. Senate committee on July 31 approved sweeping bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) to enhance the safety and reliability of pipeline transportation.

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee amended and favorably passed the PIPES Act of 2019, S. 2299, introduced on July 25 by Sen. Fischer and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration (PHMSA). 

“Now that the bill has been approved by the Commerce Committee, I hope it can swiftly move to Senate passage,” said Sen. Fischer, chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety. 

If enacted, S. 2299 would ensure states have needed federal funds to enforce federal regulations on their turf so that the PHMSA may focus its resources on interstate pipeline safety, according to information provided by Sen. Fischer’s office. 

The bill also would authorize PHMSA to examine the potential for new technologies to support pipeline inspections and would require PHMSA to periodically update the Senate Commerce Committee on its duties and progress, according to the information.

Additionally, S. 2299 would incentivize operators to self-disclose any violations to PHMSA prior to the agency discovering them, and would require plans be in place by distribution system operators for quickly notifying first responders about pipeline incidents, according to the bill’s text.

S. 2299 also includes requirements for liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility project reviews, as well as updates to standards for LNG facilities, among numerous other provisions.

“Pipeline safety is critical to ensuring Nebraskans and all Americans have access to the energy that powers our homes, communities and businesses,” Sen. Fischer said.