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Upton’s opening remarks at Markup on “H.R. 3432, the Safer Pipelines Act of 2019”

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Washington, June 26, 2019 | Josh Paciorek (202-225-3761) | comments

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy Subcommittee Ranking Member Fred Upton (R-MI) delivered the following opening remarks today at a Subcommittee on Energy markup on “H.R. 3432, the Safer Pipelines Act of 2019.”

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Today we are marking up the Majority’s bill, H.R. 3432, the “Safer Pipelines Act of 2019.”  As I expressed at the legislative hearing last week, I was concerned that we were moving a little bit too quickly, but I want to compliment you and your staff because we’ve made some very constructive improvements since last week.  So, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your good faith and willingness to include our side in this process.  We still have a lot to do between now and Full Committee, so let’s get down to work.     

My priorities for pipeline safety reauthorization are straightforward. 

First, we must ensure that PHMSA and the States have the resources they need to perform their pipeline safety responsibilities. 

Second, we need PHMSA to complete the overdue hazardous liquid and gas pipeline rulemakings. 

Third, we need to ensure that PHSMA, State regulators, and pipeline operators are incorporating lessons-learned from prior accidents, integrating new technologies, and continuing to improve safety. 

I am afraid that some of the provisions in H.R. 3432 will slow things down and weaken PHMSA’s pipeline safety program.  Removing the requirement that PHMSA examine the full costs and benefits of a proposed regulation could delay the completion of important safety regulations.  Authorizing frivolous lawsuits through a new mandamus clause would bog down the process even further, potentially resulting in sue-and-settle agreements that shut out the public and divert agency resources.  Neither of these would be a good outcome, and for those reasons, Republicans have filed amendments to improve the bill.      

I am also concerned that H.R. 3432 would undo the progress that PHMSA has been making over the last few years on new regulations for both gas and liquid pipelines.  Since everyone seems to agree that PHMSA should complete its outstanding Congressional mandates and pending regulations, we should examine whether new legislative mandates regarding “direct assessments” or “automated valves” will conflict with the regulations that are nearing completion.  We should also examine the language regarding “civil penalties” and “public outreach” more thoroughly to eliminate the potential for unintended consequences and to make sure we are incentivizing a culture of safety.           

Finally, as we think about how to encourage PHSMA and pipeline operators to implement lessons-learned from prior accidents, integrate new technologies, and continue to improve safety, we should include Republican amendments to establish a pilot program for technology and a Voluntary Information Sharing System.  We should also examine ways to protect pipelines from physical and cyber-attacks to ensure the reliability of our energy systems. 

With that, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your leadership on pipeline safety, and I look forward to working more closely with you in weeks ahead.  Thank you, I yield back.”   

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