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US Senate passes pipeline safety Bill

Published by
World Pipelines,

The US Senate has passed a bill reauthorising the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and boosting pipeline safety and oversight, including a designation for the Great Lakes that will subject them to higher standards for operating safety.

The legislation, which passed the chamber by unanimous voice vote last Thursday, will be known as the SAFE PIPES Act.

The Bill also directs pipeline operators and federal regulators to consider updating response plans for spills affecting waters or shorelines covered by ice, which is of particular concern in the Great Lakes region.

The Bill reauthorises PHMSA until 2019 and increases funding levels for the agency by 2% annually over four years, so that the agency has more resources for oversight activities.

The legislation also contains provisions to streamline hiring for agency inspectors for a year to expedite hiring for understaffed positions.

The bill includes:

  • Designating the Great Lakes as an "Unusually Sensitive Area," which increases the safety standards under which pipeline operators must work in or near the lakes.
  • Requiring PHMSA and pipeline operators to consider spill response plans that factor in conditions including partial or total ice cover.
  • Requiring the Government Accountability Office to report on pipeline integrity management for natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, and review the risks posed by age, condition, materials and construction of a pipeline.

    Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner

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