House Panel Advances PIPES Act, Targeting Pipeline Safety
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Legislation designed to boost safety and efficiency along pipeline systems to improve supply chain connectivity was approved Dec. 6 by a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Promoting Innovation in Pipeline Efficiency and Safety, or PIPES, Act would authorize slightly more than $800 million over four years for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
“The United States is blessed with abundant energy resources, and new technologies and processes make it possible to safely and affordably produce and transport vast quantities of American energy, reversing the production declines of the past,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said after the bill’s approval. “Pipelines remain the safest and most economically efficient means of delivering these resources.
“This bill ensures the right balance between environmentally friendly U.S. production and the safe transportation of all our energy resources, ensuring that we remain a competitive global leader in the production and exportation of newer energy resources.”
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member, said, “Increasing pipeline safety has been a priority of mine throughout my time in Congress, and passing the bipartisan PIPES Act today is an important step in advancing that goal. Our bill will strengthen the safety of the millions of miles of existing pipelines as well as the new carbon dioxide and hydrogen pipelines made possible … by investments in the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act. I thank [Chairman] Graves for his leadership on this important issue and look forward to this strong bipartisan bill becoming law.”
Specifically, the PIPES Act would require PHMSA to submit certain funding information to Congress as well as establish an Office of Public Engagement meant to educate local governments, public safety organizations, pipeline operators and the public. According to background from the committee, the new office “assigns specific duties to engage with the public, government officials, public safety organizations, and pipeline operators, and assist with inquiries regarding pipeline safety best practices and regulations. The office will also promote the adoption and increased use of safety programs.”
Also, the bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete a study within two years on composite pipeline material for the transportation of hydrogen and hydrogen blended with natural gas. And it would require the secretary of transportation to complete a rulemaking to establish safety standards associated with carbon dioxide in a gaseous state.
Before the panel’s approval of the measure, House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Troy Nehls (R-Texas) affirmed: “The PIPES Act will ensure that previous congressional mandates are undertaken appropriately while adding important transparency provisions for the public. I am proud that our bipartisan bill requires PHMSA to complete a rulemaking to establish minimum safety standards for the transportation and temporary storage of [carbon dioxide] in a gaseous state, a significant win for both the environment and the oil and gas industry.”
The measure advanced to the Republican-led House floor for consideration. A vote on the bill has yet to be scheduled. A Senate version has not passed in that chamber.
Stakeholders quickly touted House lawmakers’ committee approval of the pipeline safety measure.
Amy Andryszak, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, said her association “is encouraged by the process undertaken by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and strongly encourages the Senate to use this bipartisan framework to swiftly advance the PIPES Act so that it can be enacted into law next year. Safety is paramount in everything that we do as an industry, and we look forward to seeing this legislation advance in the coming months.”
According to PHMSA, a nearly 3 million-mile pipeline transportation system and daily shipments of hazardous materials across various modes of transport are under the agency’s jurisdiction.
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