Saturday, November 21, 2015

S 2276 Introduced – Safe Pipes Act

Earlier this month Sen Fischer (R,NE) introduced S 2276, the Securing America’s Future Energy: Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (SAFE PIPES) Act. The bill authorizes expenditures for the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety programs. It also requires a number of pipeline related studies and reports to Congress and some relatively minor rulemakings.

Reports to Congress

Section 3 of the bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to report to Congress on the status of a number of rulemaking activities required by Congress. Specifically mentioned are final rules required by Pipeline Safety Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011 (PL 112–90). Those include:

• Integrity management {§5(f)};
• Leak detection {§8(b)}; and
• Accident and incident notification {§9(a)}.

Other reports required in the bill include:

• Natural gas integrity management review {§5};
• Hazardous liquid integrity management review {§6};
• Study on improving location mapping technology {§9};
• Workforce of pipeline and hazardous materials safety administration {§10};
• Nationwide integrated pipeline safety regulatory database {§13};

New Regulation Requirements

This bill would require the Secretary to initiate a number of new rulemaking requirements; including:

• Underground natural gas storage facilities safety standard {§14}; and
• Defining the Great Lakes as an ecological resource under 49 CFR 195.6(b) {§16};

Pipeline Security

There is one minor reference to pipeline security issues in the bill. Section 17 of the bill requires the GAO to conduct a surface transportation security review that specifically addresses “the staffing, resource allocation, oversight strategy, and management of the Transportation Security Administration’s pipeline security program and other surface transportation programs”.

Moving Forward

Fisher is the Chair of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, so this bill will certainly be considered in Committee.

The bill does not contain any obviously controversial political riders that doom so many authorization bills, so it is likely that this bill (after being amended on the floor of the Senate) would be able to pass with substantial bipartisan support. It is possible that this bill will be considered in the Senate before the end of the year.

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