AGA’s Christina Sames testifies before Congress on pipeline safety 

WASHINGTON – American Gas Association’s Senior Vice President of Safety, Operations, Engineering and Security, Christina Sames, testified on Tuesday before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials to highlight critical policy needs to improve pipeline safety in the upcoming reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). 

“The distribution industry takes very seriously the responsibility of continuing to deliver natural gas to our families, neighbors, and business partners as safely, reliably and responsibly as possible. Every year, the industry invests $33 billion on the safety of our natural gas pipeline systems.” said Sames in her testimony. “As pipeline safety reauthorization legislation is drafted this year, AGA encourages Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to move reasonable and consensus changes to pipeline safety law and regulation, support PHMSA’s primary role as pipeline safety regulator, and recognize the great strides in pipeline safety engineering and operating practices that pipeline companies are putting into practice across the country.” 

Natural gas is delivered to customers through an approximately 2.7 million mile underground pipeline system, including 2.3 million miles of local utility distribution pipelines, 100,000 miles of gathering lines and 300,000 miles of transmission pipelines providing service to more than 189 million Americans. The natural gas utility distribution pipelines, operated by the local distribution companies AGA represents, make up the critical last link in the delivery chain that brings natural gas from its point of origin to the consumer. 

AGA and its members have long supported fact-based, reasonable, flexible and practicable updates to pipeline safety legislation that build upon lessons learned and evolving improvements to pipeline safety and related programs and technology. Four out of five key principles highlighted by Sames’ testimony before the committee are included in H.R. 6496, the Promoting Innovation in Pipeline Efficiency and Safety (PIPES) Act of 2023. Key needs highlighted in Sames’ testimony include directing PHMSA to incentivize states to adopt One Call program leading practices to limit excavation damage incidents, promotion of pipeline technology alternatives, strengthened criminal penalties for damage to pipelines, furthered research and development on hydrogen-natural gas blending, implementation of a Pipeline Safety Voluntary Information-Sharing System and four-year reauthorization of PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Program. 

Learn more about AGA’s work towards pipeline safety here and read Sames’ full testimony here