09.18.15

Daines Investigates Pipeline Safety, PHMSA Reauthorization at Montana Field Hearing

BILLINGS, Mont. — Senator Steve Daines today held a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation field hearing in Billings, Montana to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

The hearing examined 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 through pipelines, highways and rail lines.

Daines and witnesses also examined the upcoming reauthorization of PHMSA and its efficacy in overseeing and enforcing federal regulations in light of recent pipeline ruptures in eastern Montana.

“I’m thankful that we were able to hold this field hearing in Billings today and have Montanans at the table,” Daines stated. “We need Washington to look more like Montana and that is best accomplished when we have decision makers come to the states to listen and learn.  As Congress considers the reauthorization of PHMSA, I will continue working closely with the Senate Commerce Committee to ensure the message we’ve heard today is reflected in upcoming legislation.”

Daines was joined at today’s field hearing by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), the chairman of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee.

“From Big Sky to rural Nebraska, and all across America, Congress must work to protect the safety of our citizens and our precious natural resources,” Fischer stated. “I was pleased to lead today’s hearing with Senator Daines, where we heard from various stakeholders on ways to ensure the stability and efficiency of pipelines in this country. I look forward to working with Senator Daines as we continue to conduct robust oversight over a successful and safe network of pipeline infrastructure. I appreciate Senator Daines' energy and interest in this important issue.”

Montana Senator Jon Tester also provided testimony at the hearing.

“Montana is the best place to hold this hearing, because while we are proud to be an energy leader, the importance of our rivers and lands can’t be understated,” Tester stated. “We must do everything we can to protect them for future generations. Oil and gas production is critical to Montana’s economy, but so are our outdoor, agriculture and tourism economies. I am committed to working to prevent future spills and to making sure our kids inherit an even stronger Montana.”

PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez and other key witnesses shared their perspectives about ongoing work to improve the safety and security of the nation’s pipeline network and the important role that pipelines hold in supporting good-paying Montana jobs:

“The recent oil spills in Montana and California are unacceptable and unfortunate, and they underscore the importance of PHMSA’s safety mission and the need to learn from these incidents and work together with state partners to push for improvements that mitigate risk and prevent future incidents,” PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez stated. “Montana is one example of PHMSA’s strong coordination with state partners, which is ever more important as the industry expands. States’ input and experience is critical as PHMSA sets public policy, strategically allocates resources, and moves forward with new regulations.”

“The future of Phillips 66 Pipeline in Montana is care and stewardship of the rivers and lands we cross,” Phillips 66 Pipeline President Todd Denton stated. “Phillips 66 Pipeline and the entire liquids pipeline industry are committed to strong, robust river crossing programs protecting our natural and public resources.”

“Pipeline safety is very high in our priorities especially after the Exxon spill in 2011,” Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund stated. “We have an expectation that all regulations and rules will be 100 percent complied with. It is important to note the lessons learned from the spill and mitigation efforts from the pipeline companies and refineries to reduce future possibilities of another catastrophic incident. It is in the pipeline and refineries best interest to comply with all safety regulations and I see a strong desire by the private companies to go above what is expected to provide a safe environment for transportation of our nation' s critical fuel supply and look out for the best interest of their stockholders.”

“The success of the MLGPA has been built on the foundation established through collaborative efforts and extensive face to face outreach with all stakeholders,” Montana Liquid Gas Pipeline Association Michelle Slyder stated. “The members of the MLGPA consider collaborative organizations to be a cornerstone of our success. The extensive level of stakeholder engagement in Montana proves that it is effective to allow operators the flexibility to implement common sense local strategies to address code requirements and that there is no one size fits all approach to public awareness.”

Full prepared testimony from today’s hearing is available here.

Witnesses from the field hearing included:

PANEL ONE

  • Senator Jon Tester, Montana

PANEL TWO

  • The Honorable Marie Therese Dominguez, PHMSA Administrator
  • Mr. Todd Denton, President, Phillips 66 Pipeline
  • Mr. John Ostlund, Yellowstone Country Commissioner
  • Ms. Michelle Slyder, Montana Liquid Gas Pipeline Association

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Contact: Alee LockmanKatie Waldman or Lindsey Singer