NLRB Pushing Pro-Union Agenda; EPA Proposal Affects Pipeline Compressors

September 2011, Vol. 66 No. 9

INGAA prefers House Pipeline Safety bill
The House pipeline safety bill introduced in July is similar in many ways to the Senate bill which the Commerce Committee passed in May. But there are differences with the House bill, called the Pipeline Infrastructure and Community Protection Act of 2011, being the preferred option in the view of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. There has been no floor vote on the bills in either house.

At hearings in a House Energy & Commerce subcommittee in July, Daniel B. Martin, senior vice president of pipeline safety for the El Paso Pipeline Group, who was testifying for INGAA, singled out the sections in both bills on changes to the transmission integrity management program (TIMP). Established in 2003, the TIMP requires interstate pipelines to test segments running through “high consequence areas” (HCAs) and repair any potential problems.

Both the House and Senate bills open the door to HCA expansions. The House bill, which INGAA prefers, requires the Secretary of Transportation to make recommendations to Congress within one year of the bill’s passage on whether to expand the program and, if so, to what degree. The section specifically enumerates factors upon which the Secretary should base the recommendations. These factors include the need to remain focused on reducing risks in populated areas rather than simply an unfocused increase in the number of pipeline miles covered under the program. “INGAA believes that it is important for Congress to provide the Secretary with this guidance that the priority of integrity management should remain risk-reduction,” Martin said.

The House bill also requires the DOT to undertake a rulemaking to eliminate class location regulations within two years. Those regulations, from 1970, require a margin of safety for segments in populated area. The requirements are essentially redundant given the TIMP.

Carl Weimer, executive director, The Pipeline Safety Trust, told the subcommittee that class location rules should not be eliminated unless and until the industry has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) that integrity management principles are in place and at least as protective. He got support from Randall S. Knepper, director, Safety Division, New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission who was testifying on behalf of the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives.