Chairman Nehls Statement from Pipeline Safety Hearing
Opening remarks, as prepared, from Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Troy Nehls (R-TX) from today’s hearing, entitled, “Pipeline Safety: Reviewing Implementation of the PIPES Act of 2020 and Examining Future Safety Needs”:
The United States has the largest pipeline network in the world, consisting of about 3.4 million miles of pipeline. The oil and natural gas industry generates about 11.3 million American jobs and accounts for nearly 8 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product, which is an economic impact of about $1.7 trillion per year. The United States is now a leading exporter of energy to the rest of the world. Investments by the energy sector will continue to provide high paying jobs for a diversifying workforce and promote domestic energy security.
Pipelines are critical infrastructure for supporting our energy sector and represent the safest, most efficient, most environmentally friendly mode of transporting energy. Pipelines are an essential part of the energy supply chain and ensure communities across the country, and our allies abroad, have access to affordable and reliable American energy. The recent supply chain crisis and rising inflation, coupled with the war in Ukraine, demonstrate the importance of having reliable, easy access to energy and the negative consequences of restricting or cutting off our energy supply.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the Federal agency responsible for overseeing the safe and reliable operation of the United States pipeline network. Promoting pipeline safety has been a priority for Congress, which enacted several bipartisan laws in recent years to reauthorize crucial pipeline safety programs at PHMSA and direct the agency to initiate actions that advance pipeline safety.
The 2020 pipeline safety reauthorization made advances in safety through some commonsense policy and a balanced, not overly burdensome, regulatory approach. It is essential that Congress ensure PHMSA is prioritizing and implementing prior congressional mandates and does not impermissibly favor Administration priorities over these mandates. PHMSA must prioritize hiring competent pipeline safety inspectors, not more lawyers, and must keep its focus on protecting people and the environment by advancing the safety and reliability of pipelines.
Today, we will hear from PHMSA on progress made towards implementing the PIPES 2020 Act and how it is working to meet the requirements set by Congress. Pipeline safety is a collaborative effort between PHMSA, state governments, industry, and the public. We must continue to promote cooperation between stakeholders and regulators to find a balanced approach that fosters innovation in technology and implementation of best safety practices.
I am looking forward to hearing from industry and public safety representatives today about some of these practices and new technologies that can help us improve safety. This includes how we can support the development of infrastructure to transport new and emerging fuels such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen, and how innovative technology and operations are being used to improve inspections, leak detection, leak prevention, and the overall safety of pipeline networks.
As Congress looks to the next pipeline safety reauthorization, we must embrace ways in which industry and regulators can work together to achieve our goal of zero pipeline incidents. I hope to renew the tradition of passing a bipartisan pipeline safety bill from this Committee, and I look forward to working with the Ranking Member, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the Senate to accomplish this important goal.
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