June 21– US President Barack Obama signed S. 2276, the 2016 pipeline safety reauthorization bill. The bill became law more than a week after the US Senate approved a version with House amendments and sent it to the White House.
June 13– The US Senate unanimously approved an amended federal pipeline safety bill it received days earlier from the House of Representatives, sending it to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
June 8- The US House unanimously approved an amended federal pipeline safety bill that included changes from bills two of its committees approved in late April and sent the reworked measure back to the Senate for further consideration.
April 27- The US House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed HR 5050, the pipeline safety reauthorization bill. The action followed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s approval of its own pipeline safety bill, HR 4937, a week earlier.
March 16- A US House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee unanimously approved pipeline safety legislation and sent the measure to the full committee for consideration.
March 3- The US Senate unanimously passed S. 2276, which would reauthorize the US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration through fiscal 2019 while requiring the US Department of Transportation agency to finishing implementing mandates from the 2011 reauthorization bill.
Pipeline Safety Bill
API Executive Vice-Pres. Lewis Finkel said, “The bill will enhance safety, improve transparency of PHMSA’s rulemaking process, shorten inspection reporting time, and improve workforce management.”
Meanwhile, AOPL Pres. Andrew J. Black noted that the PIPES Act:
- Ensures pipeline operators receive timely post-inspection information from the government to allow them to maintain and improve their safety efforts.
- Increases inspection requirements for certain underwater oil pipelines to enhance safety.
- Ensures that product composition information is quickly provided to first responders after an incident.
- Improves protection of coastal areas, marine coastal waters, and the Great Lakes by explicitly designating them as unusually environmentally sensitive to pipeline failures.
The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, or PIPES Act, reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) oil and gas pipeline programs through 2019, with a few new mandates for the agency.
“Every day, American families and businesses depend on safe and efficient energy transportation,” they said. “The PIPES Act will ensure that our nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipelines continue to provide critical access to energy, and we are proud of the bipartisan work that made this effort a success.”
The law gives the secretary of Transportation, who oversees PHMSA, the power to quickly issue emergency orders for the pipeline industry, for example, if an incident exposes a widespread problem.
It also requires that PHMSA develop national regulations for the construction and operation of underground natural gas storage facilities. That provision is in response to the massive Aliso Canyon gas leak in southern California, which lasted from October 2015 to February 2016 and leaked about 97,000 tons of gas into the atmosphere.
Beyond those mandates, the bill instructs PHMSA to continue to work on a large set of mandates from the 2011 pipeline safety law, many of which the agency has not completed.