Daines’ Bill to Reauthorize PHMSA Passes Senate Commerce Committee

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

The bipartisan SAFE PIPES Act passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee this morning. The bill would reauthorize Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) from Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 through FY 2019. 

“The SAFE PIPES Act is an important step forward to improve the protection of pipeline river crossings, fill vacant inspector positions and facilitate communication between PHMSA and state agencies,” Daines stated. “This is a strong, bipartisan bill that will enhance pipeline safety, promote economic opportunity and help protect our environment. It is imperative to Montana that we continue to promote safe, environmentally responsible and efficient operation and oversight of our nation’s pipelines.” 

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

Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund: “Sen. Daines’ efforts to improve the efficacy of PHMSA and safety practices is appreciated.  The Senate field hearing in Billings really shed light on Montana’s proactive efforts in pipeline safety and enabled DC bureaucrats to learn from those with first hand experiences.  Introduction of the SAFE PIPES Act is another step in that direction, to keep PHMSA accountable and enhance safety. Our rivers are invaluable. I am grateful Sen. Daines is proactive in protecting these special wild places and increasing their priority in pipeline operators’ integrity management programs. As an employee of the State of Montana, I am grateful Sen. Daines is working to help create a forum for PHMSA to better communicate with State entities.  We often are overlooked in rural communities.  This will help keep the lines of communication open.”

Daines introduced the SAFE PIPES Act on November 11, 2015 along with Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

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. 

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.