PHMSA Director Nominee Seeks New Technology, Faster Hiring Process Within the Agency

Nominee Howard "Skip" Elliott said he would focus on new technology, first responders' needs, and faster hiring if he were confirmed as the next director of PHMSA, he told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday.

Elliott, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. freight rail industry, was nominated for the key leadership position by President Trump earlier this month.

Elliott told the panel that he had seen how much technology improved the safety and efficiency of the rail industry and would be interested in exploring how technology could be deployed to improve safety on pipelines.

Elliott also told the panel that he would improve transparency with first responders to enhance their capabilities and, as a result, improve safety.

During his opening statement for the hearing on his nomination, Elliott mentioned he would seek to shorten the hiring process within PHMSA to quickly fill open positions.

He also said he would work to peel back each PHMSA regulation to find those that deliver the greatest safety measures to the public and pipeline operators and work hard to get those rules in place.

Elliot has a strong support system within the industry, with groups like the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute praising Elliott for his railroad history and experience with hazardous materials.