President Obama signed the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act or the SAFE PIPES Act into law on June 22, 2016. The Safe Pipes Act reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) through 2019 as well as its associated programs, including the one-call notification program, the pipeline integrity program, and state damage prevention programs. (PHMSA’s authorization previously expired in 2015.) Also, the SAFE PIPES Act authorizes several initiatives and studies to strengthen existing safety procedures and programs; invites States with a pipeline safety program certification, at their request, to participate in the inspection of interstate pipeline facilities; and requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to analyze the potential for leaks to occur at underground natural gas storage facilities in the United States, similar to the Aliso Canyon gas leak in southern California in 2016. Importantly, the SAFE PIPES Act mandates the PHMSA provide a report to Congress within eighteen months studying the risks and safety recommendations for existing hazardous liquid pipelines. PHMSA’s findings have the potential to increase inspection, monitoring, and repair requirements for liquid pipelines, especially for the United States’ aging pipeline infrastructure.
The full text of the SAFE PIPES Act can be found here.
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