AGA: PHMSA Pipeline Safety Legislation Recommendations Align With Current Industry Efforts and Incentivize Safety Best Practices
Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) says that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recommendations for pipeline safety reauthorization legislation align with current efforts by the industry to enhance safety.
“PHMSA’s recommendations would create a framework for our members to enhance safety and pioneer industry-leading practices by recognizing operators that consistently go above and beyond federal regulations for the safety of their customers and communities,” said Christina Sames, AGA’s Vice President of Operations and Engineering. “Many of the provisions put forth by PHMSA are consistent with ongoing industry efforts and we look forward to discussing opportunities where language could be more inclusive or expansive to further our shared goal of safe, reliable and affordable energy delivery.”
AGA highlighted some specific areas where PHMSA’s proposals are in-line with industry efforts and activities:
- Section 3 authorizes PHMSA to evaluate and implement potential programs that enhance pipeline safety performance by providing recognition or other non-financial incentives for pipeline operators who voluntarily exceed the minimum federal pipeline safety regulations to ensure operating safety and reliability. AGA is always mindful that federal regulations should be a floor and not a ceiling. Recognizing operators that go above-and-beyond federal pipeline safety regulations encourages the industry to raise the bar on safety.
- Section 6 grants PHMSA authority to conduct pilot programs of new technologies and promote the use of new and innovative technologies to promote the safe, efficient and secure transportation of gas or hazardous liquids by pipelines. This type of research and development is critical to forming the innovations that will further enhance the safety and reliability of the nation’s natural gas system.
- Section 5 and section 15 authorize PHMSA to issue regulations setting up a voluntary, non-punitive information sharing system to encourage collaborative efforts to improve information sharing and requiring all pipeline operators to perform Management of Change activities. These practices are a part of a holistic approach to improving pipeline safety called Pipeline Safety Management Systems that was recommended by the AGA Board on May 21.
AGA will also be reviewing the legislation with our members and discussing it with House and Senate committees of jurisdiction in the coming weeks.
The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 73 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 95 percent — more than 69 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than one-fourth of the United States' energy needs.