On December 8, 2011 the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced newly agreed upon language to amend the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2845), which will reauthorize federal pipeline safety programs through fiscal year 2015. The House Transportation Committee leaders worked with both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate committee leaders on this bipartisan effort. Congress is now able to consider this legislation in enough time for the President to approve the passage of this bill before the end of the year.
Bill provisions that affect operators include the following: increase civil penalties; enhance state damage prevention programs; require automatic or remotely controlled shutoff valves on new or fully replaced transmission pipelines and excess flow valves or equivalent technology on new or fully replaced distribution branch services, multifamily facilities and small commercial facilities (where economically, technically and operationally feasible); require transmission operators in class 3 and 4 locations and class 1 and 2 HCAs to verify maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) records and, where records are not adequate, submit documentation to PHMSA and reconfirm MAOP; require testing to confirm the material strength of previously untested transmission pipelines in HCAs that operate above 30% specified minimum yield strength; establish specific time limits for incident notification; issue guidance on providing system specific information to emergency response agencies; requires PHMSA to maintain copies of emergency response plans; require all documents that PHMSA incorporates by reference into regulation to be made available to the public free of charge; and maps of high consequence areas (HCAs) to be added to the National Pipeline Mapping System.