Key Development: House Transportation and Infrastructure and Energy and Commerce Committees release compromise bill.
Potential Impact: Bill would impose steep fines on operators who obstruct accident investigations, mandate shutoff valves for gas transmission lines, and require study of integrity management rules.
What's Next: The House is scheduled to take up the bill Dec. 12 under a suspension of rules, which would allow immediate passage.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure and Energy and Commerce committees reached agreement Dec. 8 on a bill (H.R. 2845) that would reauthorize federal pipeline safety programs, with tougher penalties for violators.
The agreement resolved differing approaches by the committees to regulate pipeline safety that had threatened to stall the legislation. The committees' approval clears the bill for House floor action.
In addition to authorizing higher penalties, the bill would require the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to promulgate rules mandating the use of remote-controlled or automatic shutoff valves in all new or entirely replaced gas transmission lines two years after the bill's enactment.
It also would allow Secretary of Transportation to promulgate rules three years on integrity management for gas transmission lines only after it has conducted a study to evaluate whether the existing programs are needed beyond high consequence areas, or areas with high populations. The study would begin no later than 18 months after the bill is enacted into law.
The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainly, and Job Creation Act of 2011 also would authorize funding for PHMSA, the agency that oversees more than 2.3 million miles of pipeline that transport natural gas and hazardous liquids, including petroleum.
The new text of H.R. 2845 reflects the agreement reached among Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (D-Mich.), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), and the committees' ranking Democrats.
The Energy and Commerce Committee, which has secondary jurisdiction over pipeline safety programs, had passed its own version of pipeline safety programs in H.R. 2837, but had deferred to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over these programs.
The Senate already has adopted its own pipeline safety bill, the Pipeline Transportation Safety Act of 2011 (S. 275).
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, told BNA that H.R. 2845 reflects a compromise between the two committees.
He said the bill would be taken up Monday, Dec. 12, under a suspension of rules.
Shuster said House leadership had received word from the Senate that the bill would be taken up under unanimous consent, following the expected passage of the bill in the House.
Like its Senate counterpart, the new version of H.R. 2845 would authorize a fine of up to $200,000 for single violations and up to $2 million for a series of violations stemming from obstruction of investigation of pipeline accidents. The maximum civil penalty would not apply to other enforcement actions, according to the bill.
The bill would require a study of biofuels and a study of the effect of diluted bitumen, a component of oil sands, on pipelines. It also would require the Transportation Secretary to promulgate regulations, following a study to be submitted to Congress, that would subject offshore hazardous liquid gathering lines and hazardous liquid gathering lines within the inlets of the Gulf of Mexico to the same standards and regulations as other hazardous liquid lines.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of American welcomed the “bipartisan bicamercal” agreement on pipeline safety legislation.
Martin Edwards, INGAA's legislative director, said he expects pipeline safety legislation to be enacted this year.
The compromise text of H.R. 2845 is available at http://republicans.transportation.house.gov/Media/file/112th/Railroads/HR2845-2011-12-08.pdf.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)