Bill would give PHMSA direct hire authority for pipeline inspectors

Two US House Energy and Commerce Committee members from Texas said they have introduced legislation that would give the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration direct hire authority for more pipeline inspectors.

HR 3823 would transfer that authority from the US Office of Personnel Management with an emphasis on creating opportunities for women, veterans, and minorities, Democrat Gene Green and Republican Pete Olson jointly announced on Oct 26. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) and Brian Babin (R-Tex.) cosponsored the measure.

If the bill becomes law, PHMSA’s administrator would be required to report to Congress within 180 days and annually thereafter on administration efforts to hire women, veterans, and minorities as pipeline inspectors since Jan. 1, 2012. The new authority would expire Dec. 31, 2017, unless renewed.

“Pipeline safety is critical and relies upon an adequate supply of inspectors to accomplish inspections in a timely manner to both protect surrounding areas and ensure timely delivery of needed energy,” said Olson, who is vice-chairman of the committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee.

“This bipartisan bill expedites the process to hire more inspectors to improve the safety and delivery of vital resources flowing through America’s pipelines,” Olson said.

Green said, “Updating our infrastructure is only one part of making pipelines safer. We need to hire and invest in pipeline inspectors. This bill will expedite that process while creating opportunities for underrepresented groups.”

HR 3823 was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee initially, and the Energy and Commerce and Oversight and Government Reform Committees subsequently.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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