Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: The State of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Safety Regulations and Opportunities for Reform
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
This is a hearing of Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
Summary of Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
Hearing on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: The State of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Safety Regulation and Opportunities for Reform”
April 26, 2017
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today we meet to take stock of the landscape for safety regulation across all of the industries under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction, and to consider opportunities for reform.
Much has been accomplished on rail, pipeline, and hazardous materials safety, most recently through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, and the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, or PIPES Act.
I am proud that we have consistently worked on a bipartisan basis, and thank Chairman Shuster and Ranking Members DeFazio and Capuano for their work on these bills.
Safety is our top priority, and will continue to be so. But the breadth of regulation has grown significantly in recent years. And so we are here to ask stakeholders about the impact and burden of regulation on their businesses, and ways to ease that burden without compromising safety.
Since 2000, the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) governing railroad safety has grown from 719 pages to 1,240, requiring the publication of a separate volume of the CFR just for rail.
Since 2004 when the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was created, the number of pages in the CFR governing pipeline and hazardous materials safety has increased from 1,135 pages to 1,568, requiring the publication of a second volume of regulations.
A number of the regulations have been mandated by Congress as a result of serious accidents. For example, the Positive Train Control (PTC) mandate followed a deadly train crash in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles and other train derailments involving the release of hazardous material. In other cases, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has acted on its own initiative.
Regardless, we are adding more regulations without considering the cumulative burden on industry. And all of the industries represented here today are facing growing regulations not just from the Department of Transportation, but from other agencies, such as the Department of Labor, as well.
Today’s hearing is an opportunity for our stakeholders to tell us what is working, not working, and what needs to be modified in terms of the regulatory process.
Are regulations based on sound science? Is guidance being used appropriately? Are the appropriate rulemaking processes being followed? Can performance-based regulations be more effective than command-and-control regulations in achieving safety goals while imposing less of a burden on industry? These are just some of the issues I hope we will explore today.
I am also interested in hearing from our witnesses about how the agencies are implementing the FAST and PIPES Acts and whether they are following Congressional intent. PHMSA has still not implemented Congressional directives from 2011, something we have expressed concern about over the past few years.