US Senators offer bill to reauthorize pipeline safety law

US Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill on Nov. 10 that would reauthorize the federal pipeline safety law by funding the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration through fiscal 2019.

“Our bill would require the agency to prioritize significant safety objectives, facilitate the hiring of new pipeline inspectors, and bolster communication between PHMSA and the states, industry, and safety stakeholders,” said Fischer, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Surface Transportation Subcommittee.

“America’s existing pipeline infrastructure serves an important role as a part of our national energy transportation network,” added Booker, the subcommittee’s ranking minority member. “The [bill] will improve the protection of pipeline river crossings, help fill vacant inspector positions, and better facilitate communications between PHMSA and state agencies.”

The senators said the bill also would require that the US Department of Transportation agency assess integrity management programs for natural gas and liquid pipelines, and encourage PHMSA to investigate and report on advanced mapping technologies for pipeline networks.

Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who also is a Surface Transportation Subcommittee member, and Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.) cosponsored the measure.

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on reauthorizing the pipeline safety law earlier in 2015, but the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which also has jurisdiction, has not got to it yet because it has been busy with the federal highways bill, a congressional observer told OGJ.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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