Safeguarding our pipeline infrastructure

Due to my commitment to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians living near pipelines are safe, I sent a letter today to Cynthia Quarterman, the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Recent accidents across the Nation, such as the natural gas pipeline explosion in California and oil pipeline spill in Michigan, have demonstrated the importance of proper pipeline inspection and maintenance. 

Taking care of our national pipeline infrastructure is crucially important to Pennsylvania, which has thousands of miles of pipeline crisscrossing its borders.  I am concerned about the aging pipeline infrastructure as well as the new, expanding infrastructure resulting from Marcellus Shale development.  I believe it is critical that sufficient resources are dedicated to caring for the entire pipeline transportation system. 

For these reasons, in my letter, I call for an assessment on the adequacy of the staff, resources and programs dedicated to inspecting interstate pipelines in Pennsylvania and an assessment of what, if any, resources are needed to do the job right.  I also ask for consideration of the establishment of a pipeline inspector training and certification center in Pennsylvania.  It is my understanding that the nearest training center to Pennsylvania is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and only has the capability to accommodate twenty-three inspectors during each certification class.  Experience has taught us what happens when pipelines are not properly looked after.  It is imperative that we learn from these lessons, take the necessary actions and make sure people are safe in their homes and communities.