Transportation Secretary Appoints 24 Members to Pipeline Safety Working Group

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today appointed 24 members to the pipeline safety Voluntary Information-Sharing System (VIS) Working Group. The newly created advisory committee that will provide the Secretary of Transportation with advice and recommendations related to pipeline safety, including whether an information-sharing system for pipeline owners and operators is needed.

“This is an important step to enhancing safety and making it easier to share best practices,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The new VIS Working Group will not only utilize the expertise of the pipeline industry, but it will encourage collaboration in the way information is used and exchanged regarding pipeline assets and activities to impact safety.”

The final appointments for the VIS Working Group were made based on the requirements in the Nov. 8 Federal Register notice requesting nominations.

The members of the VIS Working Group are:

PHMSA Representative:

Alan Mayberry, Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

State Public Utility Commissioners/State Officials

Diane Burman, Commissioner, New York State Public Service Commission

Sherina Edwards, Commissioner, Illinois Commerce Commission

State Pipeline Safety Inspectors

Joe Subsits, Chief Pipeline Safety Engineer, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

Michelle Thebert, Director, Facilities Protection Unit, Georgia Public Service Commission

Safety Advocacy Groups

Kate Blystone, Outreach Manager, Pipeline Safety Trust

Dr. Simona Perry, Research Director and Founder, Pipeline Safety Coalition

Labor Representatives

John MacNeill, National Safety Director, Utility Workers Union of America

Eric Sherman, Legislative Assistant, Native American Contractors Association

Walter Jones,Associate Director of Occupational Safety & Health, Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America

Industry Stakeholders

Leif Jensen, Senior Director of Asset Integrity, Sunoco Logistics

Dan Cote, Vice President of Pipeline Safety & Compliance, NiSource Gas

Eric Amundsen, Vice President, Panhandle Energy/Energy Transfer Partners

Bryce Brown, Vice President, Group Strategy Management, The ROSEN Group

Jason Cradit, Senior Director of Technology, TRC Oil and Gas

Alicia Farag, President & CEO, LocusView Solutions

Mark Zuniga, Vice President of Information Technology, UniversalPegasus International, Inc.

Robert Buchanan, General Manager, Seal for Life Industries

Christopher Warner, Senior Vice President, Mears Group, Inc.

Mike LaMont, Vice President, Integrity Plus

Mark Hereth, Principal, Process Performance Improvement Consultants

Research Institutions

Dr. Yiming Deng, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Michael Keller, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Tulsa

Other Entities

Holly Pearen, Senior Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund

The VIS Working Group will discuss collaborative efforts to improve pipeline inspection information sharing. The group will develop recommendations on how to best establish a voluntary information-sharing system to exchange and protect pipeline safety and inspection-related data.

“Voluntary information sharing is a critical next step in achieving a greater safety threshold in the pipeline industry,” said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez. “Today’s appointments by Secretary Foxx task a diverse and robust group of experts with providing critical recommendations in how we can use and share data to further improve pipeline safety.”

Specifically, the VIS Working Group will offer recommendations on the best ways to:

  • Identify the need for a system to confidentially share pipeline dig verification data with in-line inspection operators
  • Encourage the sharing of pipeline inspection information and the development of advanced pipeline inspection technologies
  • Share data to increase knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of the varying types of in-line inspection technologies
  • Create a secure system that protects proprietary information while also encouraging information sharing and the development of advanced pipeline inspection technologies
  • Protect safety- and security-sensitive information, as well as proprietary information
  • Determine associated regulatory, funding, and legal issues.

The VIS Working Group will convene its first meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 19, at the Hilton Arlington, 950 N. Stafford St., Arlington, VA 22203. Meetings are open to the public.

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