Daines’ Bipartisan Pipeline Safety Bill Passes Senate

U.S. SENATE — This evening, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Daines’ bipartisan legislation to help ensure the safety of America’s pipeline network.

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 Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

“A safe, secure and efficient pipeline infrastructure is critical to our nation and essential to Montana – for energy security, jobs and environment protection,” Daines stated. “Today’s passage of the SAFE PIPES Act is an important bipartisan step in protecting our natural resources, filing vacant inspector positions and improving communication between PHMSA and state agencies. I appreciate my colleagues for working with me on this crucial legislation.” 

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 

This past 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.  

The SAFE PIPES Act passed out the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on December 9, 2015

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.

The full text of the SAFE PIPES Act is available here