Amendments to SAFE PIPES Act would help increase safety of natural gas pipelines
Washington (June 14, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) praised final Senate passage of his amendments to the Securing America’s Future Energy: Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (SAFE PIPES) Act that would help address lost and unaccounted for natural gas from aging, leaky pipelines. But a third Senator Markey-authored provision to ensure transparency related to oil spills was stripped from the final legislation because of ardent opposition by the American Petroleum Institute (API). It would have required the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to provide full and un-redacted copies of pipeline oil spill response plans to Congress.
“Six years ago during the BP oil spill, I discovered that Big Oil companies had included plans to evacuate walruses from the Gulf of Mexico, even though walruses hadn’t called the Gulf home for three million years,” said Senator Markey. “Last week, Big Oil’s Republican allies in the House stripped my commonsense provision to require that full and complete copies of pipeline oil spill response plans are provided to Congress. When it comes to oversight of our nation’s oil pipelines by Congress, API doesn’t stand for the American Petroleum Institute, it stands for Avoiding Proper Inspection. I thank Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for agreeing to work with me in the coming weeks to ensure that Congress has the ability to conduct proper oversight of oil spills.
“We are finally taking important steps to update old, leaking, dangerous, and polluting natural gas pipelines. Aging pipeline infrastructure is costing consumers in Massachusetts and around the country billions of dollars and putting our first responders and our climate at risk. By repairing these crumbling natural gas pipelines we improve our safety, we create jobs, and we protect our climate from pollution.”
Senator Markey’s first amendment improves the safety of natural gas distribution pipelines by directing PHMSA to study reporting of lost and unaccounted for natural gas from these pipelines, make recommendations as appropriate, and implement recommendations that would significantly improve safety.
Senator Markey’s second amendment improves the safety of natural gas distribution pipelines by directing the Government Accountability Office to review state policies that encourage the repair and replacement of leaking pipelines or that may create barriers, make recommendations to PHMSA on policies that may improve safety, and require PHMSA to implement recommendations that would significantly improve safety.
For the past two Congresses, Senator Markey has introduced legislation to accelerate the repair and replacement of natural gas pipelines to save consumers money, prevent dangerous explosions and other accidents, and reduce the leaking methane pollution that exacerbates climate change.