The U.S. Senate last week passed its amended federal pipeline safety legislation, S.2299, which will reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for four years. The bill had been stalled after Senate Democrats requested stronger methane provisions, which was ultimately remedied with New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall’s amendment, which will require natural gas operators to use the latest methane leak protection technology, as well as creating a plan to minimize methane leaks as part of their inspection and maintenance plans. This bill, sponsored by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), received widespread bipartisan support.
The legislation is a promising step forward, particularly that the Senate was able to receive bipartisan support. Andy Black, CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines said, “Senate passage of this bipartisan bill shows it is possible to come together to improve pipeline safety.” This is critically important as pipelines remain paramount to safely and efficiently transporting energy throughout the United States to consumer markets.
The next step is for the House to pass its version of the bill, H.R. 5120 (116). Unfortunately, consideration of that bill may not occur until the chamber returns to full work in September. GAIN urges the House to take this matter seriously and vote to pass the House bill quickly.
Alex Oehler, interim president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America agrees, stating:
“Authorizing new funding for our nation’s pipeline safety program and updating PHMSA’s regulations to reflect the latest safety technologies and engineering practices will enhance safety and benefit the environment,” he continued, “This bill is the product of years of work by Senators and their staff and reflects broad consensus, which is why we urge the House of Representatives to take up this legislation as quickly as possible to provide resources and policy priorities to PHMSA and its state regulatory partners for another four years.”