Thursday, July 14, 2011

Preview of Energy and Power Hearing on Pipeline Safety

As I noted in my blog post on this week’s hearing schedule, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is conducting a hearing tomorrow morning to look at a draft of a potential bill to update the laws governing pipeline safety. When I wrote that earlier post there was no information available about the witnesses for that hearing. That has since changed.


This hearing will have three separate panels. The first will consist of two members of Congress that represent districts impacted by pipeline releases; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Rep. Denny Rehbergy (R-MT). They will certainly express the concerns of the members of their respective districts that the two accidents will not be repeated.

The second panel will consist of two Government witnesses. The first and most obvious will be Administrator Quarterman representing PHMSA. The second witness in the panel, Randall S. Knepper, Director of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, who is representing the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives whose members form the bulk of the State and Federal pipeline inspection force.

The third panel includes representatives from various pipeline industry organizations, ExxonMobil and a public interest group.

Testimony on Line

In a refreshing move, the Energy and Commerce Committee has published the prepared testimony of the witnesses on their web site before the hearing begins. For every other hearing that I have covered, the testimony has not been posted any earlier than after the witness has provided their initial oral presentation to the Committee.

It has always been obvious that committee members (and their staffs, of course) have always been provided copies of the testimony in advance. This allows them to ask more intelligent (some times a very relative term) questions. It is refreshing to have the same chance to review the testimony in advance.

I’ve had a chance to do a very quick review of each of the testimonies provided (the two members of Congress do not, apparently, have prepared remarks available). Each witness professes general support for the provisions of the discussion draft, while taking some exception to a couple of provisions. The panels seem to present a fairly balanced look at the provisions of the proposed bill. It should be an interesting hearing.

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