Wednesday, June 26, 2019

House Amends and Passes HR 3055 – 2nd FY 2020 Minibus

Yesterday, after dealing with well over 200 amendments, the House passed HR 3055, the second FY2020 spending minibus, by a near perfect (1 Democrat votes Nay) party line vote of 227 to 194. Both of the proposed amendments that I discussed earlier were adopted earlier this week.

Amendment Actions

The Maloney amendment (#264) was passed on Monday afternoon as part of amendment en bloc #7 by a voice vote. The amendment would encourage DOT to conduct research implementing connected vehicle and autonomous vehicle technologies at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings. There was no debate on this amendment.

The DeFazio amendment (#233) was passed later Monday afternoon after almost 10 minutes of debate. A recorded vote was requested and the amendment subsequently passed by a near party line vote (ten Democrats voted Nay and four Republicans voted Aye) of 221 to 195.

The debate was contentious, and more than a little hyperbole was used in attempts to sway the vote. At one point, Rep. DeFazio (D,OR) describes the potential results of a terrorist attack on a unit train of 100 LNG railcars, saying “It is likely it will cause a chain reaction and explosion. It is going to be about as powerful as Hiroshima if it goes off.” (pg H5053).

Rep. Price (D,NC) noted (pg H5054) that: “I want to note that the underlying bill provides $1 million for the  natural gas in rail tank cars, and it requires the Department to incorporate findings and recommendations from this study into any rulemaking on the transportation of LNG in rail tank cars before issuing a final rule authorizing such shipments.”

This requirement is outlined on page 75 of the Appropriations Committee Report (H Rept 116-106) on HR 3163, the original DOT spending bill that was incorporated into HR 3055 as Division E. That section in the Report on “LNG by Rail” concludes by stating:

“The Committee provides up to $1,000,000 for PHMSA to initiate this study within 30 days of enactment of this Act, and to complete this study no later than 18 months after enactment of this Act. Further, the Committee directs PHMSA to incorporate the findings and recommendations from this study into any potential rulemaking on the transportation of LNG in rail tank cars and prior to issuing a final rule authorizing such shipments [emphasis added].”

The DeFazio amendment would have no affect on the LNG by rail rulemaking, it specifically addresses the issuance of a Special Permit by PHMSA. That ‘special permit’ would be an interim authorization to ship liquified natural gas by rail pending the completion of the rulemaking. The inclusion of the DeFazio amenement in the bill could be a moot point; there is a chance that the special permit could be approved in this fiscal year.

Moving Forward

It still is not clear if the Senate will be taking up spending bills under regular order this year. If they take up HR 3055, they will certainly substitute language from the Senate versions of the underlying spending bills. It is very unlikely that a Senate version of this bill would include the DeFazio LNG by rail language. If/when the Senate passes their version of HR 3055, a conference committee will have to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. There is a remote possibility that the DeFazio language could make it into an agreed upon conference version of this bill because it would only affect the approval of a Special Permit, and would not have a direct effect on the rulemaking on the mater.

PHMSA Pipeline Safety Rule to OMB

Yesterday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) announced that it had received a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) from DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) on “Amendments to Parts 192 and 195 to Require Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards” (RIN 2137-AF06). This rulemaking first appeared on the Unified Agenda in Spring 2014.

According to the current entry in the Unified Agenda:

“PHMSA is proposing to revise the Pipeline Safety Regulations applicable to newly constructed or entirely replaced natural gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines to improve rupture mitigation and shorten pipeline segment isolation times in high consequence and select non-high consequence areas. The proposed rule defines certain pipeline events as "ruptures" and outlines certain performance standards related to rupture identification and pipeline segment isolation. PHMSA also proposes specific valve maintenance and inspection requirements, and 9-1-1 notification requirements to help operators achieve better rupture response and mitigation. The rule addresses congressional mandates, incorporate recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board, and are necessary to reduce the serious consequences of large-volume, uncontrolled releases of natural gas and hazardous liquids.”

Bills Introduced – 06-25-19

Yesterday with both the House and Senate in session there were 66 bills introduce. Two of these may receive further attention in this blog:

HR 3462 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a credit against tax for disaster mitigation expenditures. Rep. Bilirakis, Gus M. [R-FL-12] 

HR 3484 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a rotational cybersecurity research program, and for other purposes. Rep. Richmond, Cedric L. [D-LA-2]

I will watch HR 3462 for language that includes emergency response planning and/or exercises in the costs that could be covered by the tax credit.

Hopefully, HR 3484 will include language that includes control system security issues in the research program.

NCCIC Revamps ICS Web Site

Yesterday the DHS NCCIC redid their US-CERT and ICS-CERT web sites. According to a blurb on the site: “On June 25, and were consolidated into a single site—a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate website with an updated look and feel.”

Actually, there are still two separate pages for IT and ICS activities. The main page for cybersecurity activity is This page includes current US-CERT alerts, advisories and reports. It also contains links to a set of ICS pages on the site header, including the new ICS landing page: That landing page looks to contain all of the information and services found on the old ICS-CERT site.

I liked the old format better, but then again, I have been using it for the last ten+ years. Nothing is constant except change.

Maybe more to come as I dig into this over the weekend.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Subcommittee Markup of HR 3432 – Pipeline Safety

The Energy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a markup hearing on HR 3432, the Safer Pipelines Act of 2019, tomorrow. The bill was introduced earlier this week and an official copy of the bill has not yet been published. A Committee print of the bill is available.

A quick review of that print indicates that this is an authorization bill for the pipeline safety activities of DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA). I have not yet had a chance to do an in depth review of the bill but it does include provisions making modification to current requirements for:

Integrity management programs;
Pipeline hazard communication requirements;
Emergency preparedness planning; and
The adjustment of civil and criminal penalties for violations of pipeline safety rules and regulations.

Additionally, §6 of the bill includes the same mandamus provisions found in HR 3290.

The markup notice indicates that at least one amendment will be considered to HR 3432. That amendment proposed by Rep. Kennedy (D,MA) would add six new sections to the bill. Again, I have not yet had a chance to do an in depth review of the amendment, but it looks very similar to HR 2139 that was cosponsored by Kennedy. HR 2139 has not yet been referred to the Energy Subcommittee and no action has been taken on that bill.

President Nominates Lemos to CSB

Yesterday the Senate received the nomination of Katherine Andrea Lemos of California, to be a Member of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board for a five-year term. Lemos would serve to replace Mark Griffon who resigned from the CSB

According to the White House:

“Katherine A. Lemos, Ph.D., has previously served in the Federal Aviation Administration and on the National Transportation Safety Board.  Dr. Lemos is currently the Director of Programs for Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Aerospace Sector.  Dr. Lemos has a distinguished background in system safety, accident investigation, human factors, and advanced technology research and integration.  Dr. Lemos has broad experience across the product lifecycle in analyzing and promoting product, process, and operational performance.”

President Trump has twice proposed defunding the CSB in EPA budget documents. This appointment may signal an end to his attempt to kill the Board.

If Lemos is confirmed by the Senate, there will still be one vacancy remaining on the Board. The 5-year term of two of the three existing Board Members (Manny Ehrlich and Richard Engler) will expire in December.

HR 3261 Introduced – Smart Signals Grants

Earlier this month Rep. Cardenas (D,CA) introduced HR 3261, the Less Traffic with Smart Stop Lights Act of 2019. The bill would require DOT to establish the Smart Technology Traffic Signals Grant Program. Funding would come from existing DOT grant programs.

Grant Program

The new grant program would provide monies to State, local and Tribal governments to improve the functioning of traffic signal in a way that would {§2(a)}:

Reduce traffic congestion;
Improve the safety and effectiveness of roadways;
Reduce fuel costs for drivers; and
Reduce air pollution.

The monies would be used to improve traffic signals through the implementation of innovative technology, including {§2(c)}:

Adaptive signal control technology; and
Real-time data measurement technology

Funding would come from two existing DOT grant programs; the surface transportation block grant program (23 USC 133) and the congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program (23 USC 149).

Moving Forward

Cardenas is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the two committees to which this bill was assigned for consideration. Rep. Espaillat (D,CA), a cosponsor of the bill is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the other committee to which the bill was assigned. This means that the bill could be considered by both relevant committees.

There is nothing in the bill that would drive any ideological opposition to its passage. The funding provisions help to overcome the added spending issue, but it will effectively reduce the funding available for grants in the other programs by some undetermined amount.


The biggest shortfall in the language in the bill is that it contains no provisions for requiring grantees to address cybersecurity issues with these innovative technology solutions. With that lack of cybersecurity language in mind, I would like to suggest the following two modifications to the language in the bill.

First, I would add a new clause to §2(c) that would specifically allow grants to be used for improving cybersecurity of existing traffic control systems:

(3) defensive measures (as defined in 6 USC 1501) to protect new or existing traffic control systems from cybersecurity threats (as defined in 6 USC 1501).

Second, I would rewrite §2(f) to read:

(f) APPLICATIONS.—To be eligible for a grant under the Program, a State, local, or Tribal government entity shall submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such form, and containing:
(1) An analysis of the cybersecurity threats (as defined in 6 USC 1501) that would affect the traffic control systems to be funded by the grant being requested;
(2) A description of the defensive measures that would be used to address the potential threats described in (1); and
(3) Any other information as the Secretary determines appropriate.

NOTE: The definitions in §1501 use the control system inclusive definition of ‘information system’.

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */