DOT Secretary Proposes Legislation to Reauthorize Pipeline Safety Programs

The proposed legislation would authorize PHMSA to use non-financial incentives to pipeline operators that voluntarily exceed the minimum federal pipeline safety regulations to ensure operating safety and reliability.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has sent a legislative proposal to Congress to reauthorize the department's pipeline safety programs for fiscal years 2020-2023. According to DOT, the legislation "prioritizes safety, promotes innovation, and encourages reliable energy infrastructure in the United States."

"The department looks forward to working with Congress to pass a robust pipeline safety reauthorization bill that will strengthen the safety of critical energy transportation infrastructure," she said.

Among the proposed legislation's are measures that would modernize PHMSA's incident and construction data collection, establish a voluntary safety information sharing program, authorize PHMSA to use non-financial incentives to pipeline operators that voluntarily exceed the minimum federal pipeline safety regulations to ensure operating safety and reliability, encourage replacement of aged local pipeline systems, and update the property damage threshold for operator incident reporting and account for inflation changes within 18 months of passage of the bill. The amount is currently at $50,000 and has not been updated in many years, according to the legislation. The new threshold would be $100,000 and would be updated biennially to account for changes in inflation. The new incident reporting threshold would apply to both gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities and would be applicable to both telephonic and written incident reports.

"This proposal renews our commitment to pipeline safety by encouraging innovation and greater stakeholder collaboration, as well as by clarifying certain pipeline replacement practices for local distribution systems to help prevent future incidents," said PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott.

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