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Congressmen introduce Pipeline Safety Act reauthorization bill

A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives introduced a billto reauthorize the federal Pipeline Safety Act.

The legislation — dubbed the Protecting Our Infrastructure ofPipelines and Enhancing Safety, or PIPES, Act of 2016 — would require the U.S. Pipelineand Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to make a few regulatory changes tofederal standards. For one, H.R. 4937 would have PHMSA set minimum national standardsfor underground natural gas storage facilities and allow the states to set evenmore stringent standards for intrastate fields.

Further, the bill would give PHMSA emergency order authority,enabling the agency to swiftly take national action to address concerns about theindustry without having to go through the full, often multiyear rulemaking process.H.R. 4937 also would require PHMSA to more quickly inform pipeline operators aboutthe results of agency inspections.

The bill includes an additional focus on data and technologyand would create a working group comprising diverse stakeholders to determine howbest to share information and improve industry safety as a result. The legislationalso authorizes PHMSA to create a national integrated pipeline safety database fortracking and coordinating federal and state safety oversight work.

"Pipelines represent a crucial part of our national infrastructure,and millions of American families depend on safe pipelines for transportation ofthe crucial energy resources that fuel their homes and cars," Rep. Jeff Denham,R-Calif., said in an April 14 statement. "The PIPES Act will help create thesafest pipeline system in history by closing gaps in federal standards and improvingour ability to make effective safety rules."

Denham introduced the legislation along with Rep. Michael Capuano,D-Mass.; Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.; and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.