The House on Wednesday passed a bill to reauthorize the federal pipeline safety oversight board.
Members attached their bill re-upping the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to a Senate bill passed earlier this year doing the same thing. The measure now goes back to the Senate.
The bill passed unanimously, and both the top Republican and Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee praised it on Wednesday.
“We promised action, and today, I am proud that we have a bipartisan agreement that will make a real difference,” said Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
Ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) added: “The legislation before us — while not the bill I would write as Chairman — is a good proposal that moves the ball forward on safety. It is the result of a number of weeks of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations and, while some compromises were made, this is a product that in many ways is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The legislation makes changes to PHMSA safety policies, including a push to add more transparency to the regulatory process. It also gives the Department of Transportation more power to issue emergency energy pipeline shutdown orders and requires a study of pipeline operators’ management plans.
Besides bipartisan House support, industry groups approved of the measure as well.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which represents pipeline operators, said it meets the goals they had set out when the PHMSA’s reauthorization landed on lawmakers’ plates last year.
In a statement, Louis Finkel, the executive vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, said, “As domestic production grows, pipelines will be the critical link to connect our abundant oil and natural gas resources to refineries, chemical plants, business and consumers.”
He added, “The bill will enhance safety, improve transparency of PHMSA’s rulemaking process, shorten inspection reporting time, and improve workforce management.”