It is almost unheard of for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to pass the same piece of legislation by unanimous consent and for the President to sign it into law. Yet, H.R. 2845, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 passed the House and the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama today.
- Doubles the maximum fine for pipeline safety violations and extends federal safety oversight of gas, oil and other liquid pipelines through 2015.
- Authorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to hire 10 more safety inspectors.
- Commissions studies to determine if more needs to be done to secure transmission pipelines throughout the system and in more populated areas as well.
- Contains a strong incentive for states to remove current one call exemptions, requiring all entities that excavate around pipelines to call a hotline before they dig to learn about what might be below – a provision that is sure to help reduce the number of accidents due to digging,
- Newly constructed pipelines will be required to include automatic shutoff valves that isolate a section of pipe in event of a rupture, preventing further gas or liquid from escaping.
This bill the culmination of a lot of hard work by the sponsors and chief proponents of this legislation and by the natural gas industry which makes safety its highest priority.
More than 200 natural gas utilities make up the American Gas Association and they work tirelessly to ensure that customers, regulators and elected officials are confident in their ability to safely deliver their product. The provisions contained in this legislation will enhance our industry’s ability to serve our customers safely and reliably. We hope to see this level of cooperation amongst our nation’s leaders and between government and the private sector on future legislation.
Our members look forward to working with federal and state regulators to ensure that the natural gas distribution and transmission system – more than 2 million miles of local utility pipelines – continues to be the safest and most reliable method of delivering energy in the nation.