Sunday, December 11, 2011

Differences between HR 2845 and HR 2937

As promised earlier, I have had a chance now to do a side-by-side comparison of both House pipeline safety bills (HR 2845 and HR 2937) as well as the Senate bill (S 275). All three bills started out as very similar measures and they diverged during the committee review process. There are some significant differences between HR 2845 and HR 2937 (the one that I have provided the most coverage of since it was the most detailed) and interestingly the bill that the House leadership decided upon is the one that is least like the Senate version.

NOTE: HR 2845 is the Transportation Committee bill and HR 2937 is the Commerce Committee bill. They share jurisdiction over pipeline safety issues.

Items not Included in HR 2845

The following sections are found in HR 2937 but not in HR 2845; in very many ways HR 2845 is HR 2937-Lite:

§ 6. Excess flow valves;
§ 7. Integrity management;
§ 9. Cast iron gas pipelines;
§ 13. Pipeline infrastructure data collection;
§ 14. International cooperation and consultation;
§ 16. Alaska project coordination;
§ 18. Special permits;
§ 24. Additional resources;
§ 27. Maximum allowable operating pressure;
§ 28. Cover over buried pipeline;
§ 29. Onshore gathering lines;
§ 30. Natural gas pipeline leak detection report; and
§ 31. Report on minority or woman-owned or disadvantaged businesses.

I’ve discussed many of these in previous blog posts on HR 2937. One point of new information; §6 in HR 2937 is largely taken care of in the recently published ANPRM on excess flow valves.

New Items in HR 2845

There is one section in HR 2845 that is not found in HR 2937:

§ 10. Transportation-related onshore facility response plan compliance.

This is a minor editorial change being made to 33 U.S.C. 1321(m)(2) updating some references to personnel in the DOT chain of command.

Changed Section Titles

There are three sections found in HR 2845 that don’t appear to have corresponding sections in HR 2937. A closer examination of the titles and a review of their contents show that generally speaking they can be found in both bills. The sections in HR 2845 are listed below with the corresponding HR 2937 section number in parentheses.

§ 8. Leak detection (§ 10);
§ 9. Accident and incident notification (§ 11);
§ 20. Gas and hazardous liquid gathering lines (§ 29).

The differences in titles are mirrored in some significant differences in how the general provisions are implemented. HR 2845 prohibits the Secretary from proceeding with rulemaking actions on leak detection requirements until Congress authorizes the rule after reviewing the Secretary’s report under this section. Both bills try to accomplish essentially the same notification provisions but HR 2845 does not change 49 USC 60139, the underlying law governing these notifications. And finally HR 2845 allows two years to complete the report on gathering lines instead of the one year time limit in HR 2937.

Moving Forward


As I noted in the blog earlier today, the consideration of HR 2845 under suspension of rules is a pretty sure indication that the leadership does not expect any significant opposition to the bill. What will be interesting to see is how the House-Senate conference works out the differences between HR 2845 and the provision of HR 2937 that the Senate adds back in when they substitute the language from S 275.

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