Daines Introduces Bipartisan Pipeline Safety Bill

“SAFE PIPES” Act Would Reauthorize PHMSA Through 2019 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today introduced bipartisan legislation to help ensure the safety of America’s pipeline network. 

The legislation, known as the Securing America’s Future Energy: Protecting Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (SAFE PIPES) Act, would reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through 2019. The SAFE PIPES Act is also sponsored by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

“Safe and secure pipeline infrastructure is critical to our nation and is especially important to Montanans – both for economic opportunity and environmental protection in our state,” Daines stated. “The SAFE PIPES Act will improve the protection of pipeline river crossings, help fill vacant inspector positions and better facilitate communications between PHMSA and state agencies. I appreciate Senators Fischer, Booker and Peters for working with me on this important legislation to enhance pipeline safety and protect our economic and environmental resources.” 

The SAFE PIPES Act would reauthorize PHMSA from Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 through FY 2019. Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Improving inspection report turnaround times and requiring dialogue sooner from PHMSA to an operator following an inspection
  • Adding river crossing considerations to integrity management review
  • Providing direct hire authority so PHMSA can better leverage its resources to fill vacant inspector positions
  • Ensuring coordination and collaboration on safety research, development and technology between PHMSA, industry, and public sector stakeholders.
  • Encouraging the establishment of a national database for PHMSA to share data with state agencies
  • Requiring PHMSA to prioritize statutory requirements for new rulemaking
  • Requesting that PHMSA conduct an assessment of Integrity Management programs for natural gas and liquid pipelines
  • Encouraging PHMSA to investigate and report on advanced mapping technologies for pipeline networks

Dan Rostad of the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council commended Daines’ work, stating: “Montana Conservation Districts and the Yellowstone River Conservation Districts Council are on the front lines providing local oversight and protections for Montana’s waterways.  We are grateful to Senator Daines for standing with us in our continued efforts to protect our rivers and neighborhoods in this Last Best Place.”

This fall, Daines held a field hearing in Billings, Montana to examine current issues and challenges relating to the inspection and safe management of the nation’s pipeline network, as well as the importance of safely transporting our natural resources. 

Senator Fischer, chairman of the Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee, also released the following statement regarding the introduction of the SAFE PIPES Act:

“America’s pipelines move critical energy resources to our homes and businesses. Congress must conduct robust oversight to ensure the safety of this important network. That is why I’m proud to join my colleagues today to introduce bipartisan pro-safety legislation to reauthorize PHMSA. Our bill would require the agency to prioritize significant safety objectives, facilitate the hiring of new pipeline inspectors, and bolster communication between PHMSA and the industry, states, and safety stakeholders.”

PHMSA’s jurisdiction covers approximately 2.6 million miles of pipeline across the United States.  Nearly 19,000 miles crisscrosses Montana, delivering natural gas to over 262,000 homes, gasoline and diesel to the pumps, gas and oil to businesses and facilitating exports.