President Barack Obama signed into law on June 21 the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016, which sailed quickly through the House and Senate earlier this month.
The legislation is the result of bipartisan work from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, and its purpose is to reform the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to increase efficiency and transparency.
Under the PIPES Act, PHMSA is required to set federal minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, above which states have the ability to set higher standards for intrastate requirements.
The law also increases inspection requirements for certain underwater oil pipelines as well as updates regulations for certain LNG facilities to keep in line with changing technology and markets.
Along with granting emergency order authority tailored for pipelines, the PIPES Act creates a working group of safety officials and industry stakeholders to put together recommendations for creating an information sharing system to improve safety outcomes. PHMSA also has the authority to study the feasibility of a national integrated pipeline safety database to better oversee federal and state safety efforts.
“We came together, Republicans and Democrats, to improve pipeline safety, and we got the job done with this important law. Every day, American families and businesses depend on safe and efficient energy transportation. The PIPES Act will ensure that our nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipelines continue to provide critical access to energy, and we are proud of the bipartisan work that made this effort a success,” sponsors of the House of the original House legislation responded after the bill became law.