On Wednesday July 31, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation cleared the PIPES Act of 2019 (S. 2299) bill to be voted on by the full Senate. The legislation will reauthorize the DOT’s Pipeline Safety Program and provide industry with the means to enhance the safety and reliability of the nation’s pipeline transportation system. The bill, S. 2299, is expected to pass the full Senate vote and then merge with its House companion, H.R. 3432, as part of a bipartisan commitment to meet the September 30, 2019 legislative deadline to reauthorize the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA) and continue to fund PHMSA. Some notable additional or significantly revised provisions include a requirement that:
- PHMSA issue rules that prioritize other methods of inspection over direct assessment;
- PHMSA study the methods of inspection of distribution pipelines other than direct assessment;
- Automatic shutoff valves on transmission pipelines in high consequence areas be based on risk assessment “as appropriate”;
- A professional engineer approve all plans or significant changes to natural gas systems.