Casey Calls for Funds to Increase Pipeline Safety

Administration is Preparing Budget for Coming Year, Sufficient Funding for Pipeline Safety Will Help to Prevent Future Disasters / Pennsylvania Has 7,500 Miles of Interstate Pipeline, Some Over 100 Years Old / Increased Funding Will Allow for Pipeline Oversight, Inspection and Upgrades

Casey Calls for Funds to Increase Pipeline Safety

Allentown, PA – Ahead of the fourth anniversary of the tragic Allentown pipeline explosion, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for additional funding for safety measures. Senator Casey released a letter to the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is preparing the soon to be released fiscal year 2016 budget urging for additional funds for the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA). Casey was joined by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

“As the fourth anniversary of this terrible explosion approaches we remember the families that were impacted and the enduring obligation we have to ensure that increased safety measures are put into place,” Senator Casey said. “It’s vital that the Administration dedicate adequate resources to pipeline safety in its upcoming budget. Adding more inspectors and increasing oversight will work to protect communities across Pennsylvania who have aging 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. 

 

In Congress’ most recent omnibus appropriations bills, PHMA received a $34.5 million increase over FY 2014 funding. This included $10 million to increase and expand the State Pipeline Safety Grant program and $11.9 million for hiring 109 new employees for inspection and pipeline safety enforcement. It is essential that PHMSA receives sufficient funding to retain these employees in the coming years.

 

Pipeline Safety is enforced in the U.S. through a combination of federal and state staff to implement federal regulations. PHMSA also provides grants to state governments for up to 80% of the cost of their staff to support pipeline safety. These grants are very important now since states across the country are cutting their budgets.

 

 

PHMSA Funding Chart Account Name

FY 2013 Enacted

FY 2013 Under Sequestration

FY 2014 President’s Budget

FY 2014 Enacted

FY 2015 Enacted

Pipeline Safety

$110,031

$104,485

$155,073

$118,587

$145,500

Hazardous Materials Safety

$45,253

$40,123

$51,801

$45,000

$52,000

Emergency Preparedness Grants

$28,318

$26,865

$28,318

$28,318

$26,265

Operational Expenses

$20,320

$19,295

$20,154

$20,514

$20,725

Total (in Millions)

$200,922

$190,768

$255,346

$214,059

$244,490

Following the Allentown explosion Casey cosponsored the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act, which was enacted in January 2012. The bill included a provision, that Casey pushed for, which addressed the replacement of cast iron pipelines that caused the Allentown explosion. The bill also required automatic or remote controlled shutoff valves on new gas pipelines. The bill also gave PHMSA authorization to issue regulations requiring leak detection on hazardous pipelines which they are in progress of doing. In addition, this bill increases the amount of information available to the public on safety and inspection of pipelines. The bill also closes a loophole that exempts state departments of transportation and their contractors from giving the Department of Transportation a 48 hour notice before drilling.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is attached.  

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