Lawsuit Provision Removed From House Subcommittee-Approved Pipelines Bill

U.S. pipelines

A House subcommittee approved pipeline safety legislation Wednesday after removing a provision that would allow citizens to sue the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for failing to write rules.

Pipeline operators such as Kinder Morgan, Inc., Enbridge Energy Co. Inc., and Williams Companies had opposed the citizen lawsuits provision. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power eliminated it from a new draft version of the Pipeline Safety Act of 2016, which would reauthorize PHMSA, approved it on a voice vote March 16.

The legislation also adds a new section that gives the agency authority to issue rules in emergency situations, though it gives pipeline operators the ability to request a review of the action, which must be completed in 30 days.
Several lawmakers, such as Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), said they took issue with that provision. They agreed to hold related amendments until the full committee markup, possibly next week.

The underlying legislation would reauthorize through 2019 the agency's pipeline safety program, which expired in September. The agency, created in 2004, is responsible for regulating 2.6 million miles of pipeline in the U.S., as well as the transportation of hazardous materials.

What's Next: The full committee will vote on the bill, and members from both parties plan to offer amendments.

Bloomberg BNA reporter Ari Natter has the story for subscribers.