Monday, March 14, 2016

Pipeline Safety Markup Hearing – 03-14-16

This evening the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that it would be holding a markup hearing on a committee draft of a pipeline safety bill. This is the same draft that served as the basis for a hearing by the same subcommittee earlier this month. The Senate recently passed their version of this program authorization, S 2276.

There are currently 17 sections in the draft bill versus the 27 sections in the Senate bill. The following sections in the Draft bill do not have a direct counterpart in the Senate bill:

Sec. 4. Integrity management review.
Sec. 8. Direct hire authority for Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Sec. 11. Underground gas storage facilities.
Sec. 12. Requirements for certain hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.
Sec. 15. Emergency orders.
Sec. 16. Pipeline safety information grants to communities.

The following are very brief reviews of those sections listed above:

Section 4 simply requires reports to Congress on integrity management programs for natural gas pipeline facilities and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.

Section 8 allows PHMSA to hire personnel without regards to the preference systems outlined in 5 USC 3309 thru 3319.

Section 11 is similar to provisions in S 2276 except that they would apply to all underground gas storage facilities instead of just natural gas underground storage facilities.

Section 12 would amend 49 USC 60109 by adding a paragraph dealing with Hazardous Liquid Pipelines.

Section 15 would amend 49 USC 60118 by providing the Secretary of Transportation with the authority to issue emergency orders to correct situations “involving an imminent hazard that presents a substantial likelihood of death, severe personal injury, or significant harm to property or the environment” {new §60118(f)(1)(A)(i)}.

Section 16 would amend 49 USC 60130 by making substantial changes to the requirements and restrictions associated with the administration of Pipeline Safety Grants.

As is fairly typical in Energy and Commerce Committee markups, the hearing is scheduled for two days. Obviously the Committee leadership expects there to be a large number of amendments that will be considered. No details about any possible amendments are currently available on the Hearing web site.

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