By Charlie Passut
After tweaking a controversial section on emergency orders, the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee unanimously approved a pipeline safety bill to reauthorize the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act for five years, beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2017.
The bill, also known as the Pipeline Safety Act of 2016, is HR 5050. House lawmakers must now merge two individual bills in the chamber before taking the combined bill to the floor for a final vote.
“Pipeline safety is something that we should all take seriously and it’s been a priority of mine since I became chairman following the spill in southwest Michigan that impacted the Kalamazoo River,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the E&C chairman. “While an accident can happen in an instant, the damage takes years to fix, underscoring the need for strong safety laws.”
HR 5050 reauthorizes the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to enforce the nation’s pipeline laws, as outlined in the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act. The bill calls for increased transparency at PHMSA, interagency reviews and increased inspections of some underwater oil pipelines, among other things.