House Unanimously Passes Pipeline Safety Act

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By Michael Reed, Managing Editor

The House on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill reauthorizing the Federal Pipeline Safety Oversight Board. It now goes back to the Senate where it already passed on voice vote in its initial version.

The legislation, known as the PIPES Act, would change PHMSA safety policies by adding greater transparency to the regulatory process and giving the Department of Transportation more power in issuing emergency energy pipeline shutdown orders. Additionally, it requires a study of pipeline operators’ management plans.

INGAA issued a statement applauding the bipartisan support the bill has received in both houses of Congress, reiterating the organization’s support for reasonable authorization levels for the PHMSA and a requirement that it set minimum federal safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities.

“We hope the Senate can pass this bill – and send it to the president for his signature – as soon as possible,” said INGAA President and CEO Don Santa.

The AOPL has also endorsed the bill saying it will make sure pipeline operators receive timely post-inspection information from the government to allow improved maintenance and safety efforts. The bill also strengthens inspection requirements for certain underwater oil pipelines in “unusually sensitive” areas, such as coastal areas and the Great Lakes.

“The PIPES Act provides new tools to PHMSA and pipeline operators for the safe operation of pipelines,” said Andy Black, AOPL president and CEO.


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