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H.R. 5050 (114th): Pipeline Safety Act of 2016

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 10, 2016.

Pipeline Safety Act of 2016

(Sec. 2) This bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to report to specified congressional committees on the status of a final rule for required pipeline safety regulations for which no interim final rule or direct final rule has been issued.

(Sec. 3) The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) shall complete rulemaking for each such outstanding pipeline safety regulation before beginning any new rulemaking, except where there is a significant need to do so.

(Sec. 4) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) shall report on the integrity management programs for natural gas pipeline facilities and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.

(Sec. 5) Two of the individuals selected for each Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee and each Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee must be state officials (currently, state commissioners). DOT must consult with national organizations representing commissioners (as under current law) or utility regulators when making such a selection.

(Sec. 6) After completion of any pipeline safety inspection, DOT, or the certified state pipeline safety authority, shall:

conduct a post-inspection briefing with the natural gas or hazardous liquid pipeline operator, outlining any concerns, and provide written findings of the inspection. (Sec. 7) DOT shall conduct a study on improving requirements for damage prevention programs for natural gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.

(Sec. 8) The bill grants PHMSA authority to appoint qualified candidates to positions relating to pipeline safety.

PHMSA shall report annually to Congress on:

the use of such authority, and its efforts to hire women, minorities, and veterans as inspectors. (Sec. 9) DOT shall convene a working group to consider development of a voluntary information-sharing system to encourage collaborative efforts to improve inspection information feedback and information sharing regarding natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline integrity risk assessment and integrity management.

(Sec. 10) DOT shall:

report on the feasibility of establishing a national integrated pipeline safety regulatory inspection database to improve communication and collaboration between the PHMSA and state pipeline regulators; and issue minimum safety standards for the operation and integrity management, and environmental protection, of underground gas storage facilities. The bill imposes a fee on the operator of an underground natural gas storage facility and establishes an underground natural gas storage facility safety account in the Pipeline Safety Fund to receive such fees.

(Sec. 12) Each hazardous liquid pipeline facility operator shall ensure that:

pipeline integrity assessments using internal inspection technology are done once every 12 months; and such assessments using pipeline route surveys, pressure tests, external corrosion direct assessment, or other technology that determine the pipeline condition are completed on a schedule based on the risk that the facility poses to a high consequence area (urban area). (Sec. 13) PHMSA shall require, and each hazardous liquid pipeline operator shall ensure, that any response plan includes procedures and a list of resources for responding to a worst case oil discharge and to a substantial threat thereof, including when such discharge may impact navigable waters or adjoining shorelines covered by ice.

(Sec. 14) The bill adds the Great Lakes and coastal beaches as areas that are unusually sensitive to environmental damage if there is a hazardous liquid pipeline accident.

(Sec. 15) DOT may issue an emergency order, without prior notice or hearing, imposing emergency restrictions, prohibitions, and safety measures for an unsafe condition or practice that constitutes or is causing an imminent hazard to a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facility.

(Sec. 16) DOT's Inspector General shall conduct an audit of the community pipeline safety technical assistance grants program to review compliance by PHMSA and grant recipients.

(Sec. 17) DOT shall: (1) make available to the public the cost-benefit analyses of its rulemakings, and (2) identify the substantive changes between a draft rulemaking submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review and the final version published in the Federal Register.

(Sec. 18) The GAO shall report to Congress on corrosion control for gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.

(Sec. 19) DOT shall enter into an agreement with the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences to study regulatory requirements, techniques, and best practices for pipeline facilities transporting or storing only petroleum gas or mixtures of petroleum gas and air to 100 or fewer customers.

(Sec. 20) The bill requires DOT to consider: (1) national security when prescribing minimum safety standards for deciding on the location of a new liquefied natural gas pipeline facility, and (2) cybersecurity measures in prescribing minimum operating and maintenance standards for such facilities.

(Sec. 21) The bill reauthorizes through FY2021 the DOT gas and hazardous liquid pipeline and related programs, including PHMSA operational expenses, one-call notification program grants, community pipeline safety information grants, and the pipeline integrity program.