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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Pipeline Safety Bill to Be Signed into Law

June 14, 2016
Press Release
Bipartisan legislation strengthens pipeline safety

WASHINGTON, DC – With last night’s Senate passage of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (PIPES Act)– bipartisan legislation to strengthen pipeline safety, clarify safety oversight efforts, and provide greater regulatory certainty in the transportation of energy commodities – the four-year reauthorization of the federal pipeline safety program now heads to the President to be signed into law.

In the House, the work of negotiating the final measure (House amendment to S. 2276) was spearheaded by leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee.  The House unanimously passed the bill last week.

“The United States has the most expansive network of energy pipelines in the world, and it powers nearly every facet of our daily activities,” said Rep. Gene Green, Senior Democratic Member of the Energy & Power Subcommittee. “This important legislation puts in place safeguards for workers and communities across the State of Texas and our nation, so that pipelines remain a safe way to transport natural gas and hazardous liquids.”

The PIPES Act of 2016 ensures that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) finishes out the 2011 Act requirements; reforms PHMSA to be a more dynamic, data-driven regulator; and provides regulatory certainty for citizens, the safety community, and the industry.

“I am particularly pleased the legislation includes two provisions that protect Houstonians’ safety.  First, the section of workforce management gives PHMSA the flexibility to hire field inspectors when shortfalls occur,” said Rep. Gene Green. “Second, the Emergency Order Authority gives the Department the ability to respond quickly in emergency situations. Our goal is always to prevent accidents by thorough inspections, but in case of an accident we are able to act without delay.”

Click here for a more detailed fact sheet about the PIPES Act.

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Statement of Congressman Gene Green

House Floor

S. 2278 – PIPES Act

June 8, 2016

Good afternoon.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the United States has more the 2.9 million miles of pipelines in our vast network.

According to the Texas Pipeline Association, Texas has more than 320,000 miles of intrastate pipelines.

As a life-long Houstonian, there has never been a time in my life when I haven’t lived near a pipeline easement.

Needless to say, in Texas, we know pipelines but we also know about the importance of safety.

Every day, industry moves millions of gallons or cubic feet of domestically produced or refined product without any problems.

Since 2005, the United States has seen a general decline in the number of pipeline releases or accidents that result in environmental damage or personal injury. 

We understand that the compounds moved via pipeline pose a risk and we must effectively manage and mitigate that risk to protect our citizens and environment.

Today, I think we are taking another step in the right direction.

The bill before the House today is a good bill that attempts to lay down concrete rules of the road for the next five years. 

For the sake of our constituencies, we need to pass this bipartisan bill in a bipartisan way. 

I would like to voice my support for this bill and ask that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle do the same. 

Four years ago, we gave PHMSA a job to do.

While some of their work has been completed, there is more work to do.

That is why this bill directs PHMSA to prioritize rulemaking and complete the work before them.

We should not continue to add requirements to PHMSA’s plate.

We should allow PHMSA the time and most importantly, give them the resources required, to finish a very important job.

I would like to express support for the PHMSA workforce management language.

We need inspectors in the field, working closely with their industry partners to avoid another emergency situation. 

In my opinion, robust inspection is the best option available for everyone involved. 

If we reach the enforcement stage that means something has gone wrong and we are too late. 

Industry, PHMSA, and workers support this provision. 

The second provision I’d like to support is the Emergency Authority for PHMSA.

While this provision may not be perfect, it represents a strong balance between enforcement and review.

It’s important to keep in mind, this is emergency authority.

Unfortunately, when there is an incident involving a pipeline, we need to act with speed, efficiency and resolve.

I want our executive agencies on the scene ensuring we are protecting the people and the environment.

We must ensure that people have confidence in the pipeline system and effective crisis-management will help build that belief.

I appreciate the hard-work that went into crafting this provision, compromise is not easy, so I want to thank both sides for drafting these provisions.

I know there is more work ahead but I look forward to supporting the current bill.

I yield back.

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