Obama signs 2016 pipeline safety reauthorization bill into law

US President Barack Obama signed S. 2276, the 2016 pipeline safety reauthorization bill, on June 21. 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 (OGJ Online, June 14, 2016).

The measure requires the US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to set federal minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, and allows states to go above those standards for intrastate requirements.

It also authorizes emergency order authority that is tailored for pipelines, updates regulations for certain LNG facilities to better match changing technology and markets, and increases inspection requirements for certain underwater oil pipelines.

The law also creates a working group of PHMSA, states, industry stakeholders, and safety groups to develop recommendations on how to create an information sharing system to improve safety outcomes, and gives PHMSA authority to study the feasibility of a national integrated pipeline safety database to have a clearer picture of federal and state safety oversight efforts.

Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Pres. Donald F. Santa expressed appreciation for Congress and the administration’s work on the new law. “Members of the of the interstate natural gas pipeline industry are already hard at work building on Congress’s efforts to enhance the nation’s pipeline through an aggressive safety program, anchored with an overarching goal of zero pipeline incidents,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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