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Senate Passes Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Act

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March 15, 2016

The US Senate unanimously passed S. 2276, which would reauthorize the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration through fiscal 2019 while requiring the US Department of Transportation agency to finishing implementing mandates from the 2011 reauthorization bill.

While not adding much to existing law, the new legislation, which now heads to the US House where a similar bill is being prepared, also would:

  • Require PHMSA make statutory requirements for rulemaking a priority over new rulemaking.
  • Request that the agency assess natural gas and liquid pipelines’ inspections process and integrity management programs.
  • Encourage PHMSA to investigate and report on advanced mapping technologies for pipeline networks.
  • Provide the agency direct hire authority so it can address increase its inspection and enforcement staff.
  • Call for minimum standards at gas storage facilities, and establish an Aliso Canyon working group to study the recent leak at Southern California Gas Co.’s storage field near Los Angeles, which took months to contain and displaced hundreds of residents from the nearby Porter Ranch subdivision.
  • And facilitate coordination and collaboration on research, development, and technology among PHMSA, state and local governments, the gas industry, and the general public.

I expect to see increased scrutiny of assets located in or near high consequence areas (HCA), and proposed rule making from PHMSA once findings from the Aliso Canyon gas storage leak are published.

For more information, read the full Oil & Gas Journal article.