Denham Statement from Hearing to Review Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
Hearing on “A Review of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011”
May 20, 2014
(Remarks as Prepared)
Our hearing today will focus on the implementation of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. This act is administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and it expires at the end of 2015.
The United States has the largest network of energy pipelines – 2.5 million miles – of any nation in the world, and pipelines are energy lifelines that power nearly all of our daily activities. Pipelines are the safest and most cost-effective means to transport the extraordinary volumes of natural gas and hazardous liquid products that fuel our economy. Since 1986, the volume of energy products transported through pipelines has increased by one-third, yet the number of reportable incidents has decreased by 28 percent.
Pipeline safety is carried out in a partnership between PHMSA, state regulators, and the private sector. Both government and industry have taken numerous steps to improve pipelines safety over the last 10 years.
While the data shows that federal pipeline safety programs have been on the right track, Congress enacted the 2011 pipeline safety bill to strengthen our efforts, as stakeholders understood there was room for improvement. The law included 42 congressional mandates of PHMSA, of which 21 are complete, 13 are on schedule and in progress, and eight have been extended beyond their deadline. As of April 23, 2014, PHMSA had issued 10 advisory bulletins, completed five reports, updated two parts of the Code of Federal Regulations, and issued one final rule. We look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on those mandates and PHMSA’s progress at implementing the 2011 law.
We believe in a risk-based, data-driven approach to pipeline safety that focuses private investment in pipeline safety on those areas of higher risk. As PHMSA develops rules to implement the mandates contained in the 2011 act, it is critically important that we must provide regulatory certainly necessary for pipeline owners and operators to plan infrastructure investments, and do so with input from the safety community and industry. Doing so means maintaining a risk-based approach that applies cost-benefit principles to the development of rules and regulations. It also means doing the due diligence to ensure rules do not go beyond congressional intent, thereby creating uncertainty for the regulated community, which ultimately does not enhance safety.
We will hear today that industry is also being proactive in its own safety initiatives to ensure best practices exist for things like inspections, detecting leaks, and safety training. We will indeed hear from folks on both the hazardous liquids and natural gas sides of the community that developing a culture of safety is important to these industries and the communities at-large. I am looking forward to hearing about these initiatives.
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