Allentown, PA – Three years after the tragic Allentown pipeline explosion, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) during a press conference today called for additional funding for safety measures. Casey sent a letter to the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is preparing the soon to be released fiscal year 2015 budget, calling for additional funds for the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA). Casey was also joined by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
“Proper oversight and maintenance of the interstate pipeline system is essential to the safety and economic wellbeing of countless homes and businesses in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Casey. “I’m calling on the Administration to deliver additional funds so that PHMSA can take steps to safeguard against any future incidents. The tragic Allentown explosion of 2011 underscores the urgent need to improve the safety and reliability of our pipelines.”
PHMSA’s pipeline safety program oversees and maintains the safety of our national interstate pipeline system. Pennsylvania alone contains more than 7,500 miles of interstate pipeline and 63,000 miles of intrastate transmission and distribution pipelines. These infrastructure systems, which include pipelines over 100 years old, deliver enormous volumes of natural gas and other petroleum products to Pennsylvanians every day. Increased funding, as supported by Senator Casey, would allow PHMSA to increase oversight and inspection of the system.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Office of Management and Budget
Dear Director Burwell:
I write in support of increased funding for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and its pipeline safety program in the President’s fiscal 2015 budget. This funding is vital to PHMSA and its effort to oversee and maintain the safety of our national interstate pipeline system. If PHMSA is not adequately funded, we run the risk of tragic events such as the Allentown pipeline explosion in 2011 that killed five people and destroyed eight homes. This deadly event was directly attributed to aged cast-iron pipelines that should have been replaced.
Pennsylvania is a central part of the northeast interstate pipeline system, with more than 7,500 miles of interstate pipeline crisscrossing the state. In addition, there are 63,000 miles of intrastate transmission and distribution pipelines in the Commonwealth. This infrastructure moves and delivers enormous volumes of natural gas and other petroleum products to homes, farms, schools, businesses and industries throughout Pennsylvania. It is deeply concerning that some of the pipelines in Pennsylvania are over 100 years old and long overdue for replacement. We need to ensure that sufficient resources are dedicated to monitoring the safety of the entire pipeline transportation system.
The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act, which was enacted into law in 2012, includes several important safety provisions and enforcement measures designed to enhance the security and reliability of our national pipeline system. Appropriate funding in fiscal 2015 is essential to allow PHMSA to fully enforce these provisions and ensure compliance with new safety standards. Increased funding will also allow PHMSA to retain recently hired pipeline inspectors and possibly hire more to monitor our continually growing national interstate pipeline system. PHMSA also operates a state grant program that provides the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission with additional funding to carry out its pipeline inspection and safety program. PHMSA has made significant progress towards ensuring the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials. However, we need to continue to provide appropriate resources to this agency in order to ensure proper oversight of the replacement of aging cast-iron pipelines.
I appreciate the President’s efforts to improve the safety of our national pipeline system. Thank you for your attention to my concerns.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator