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PIPES Act Sent To President For Signature

On June 13, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act) legislation that reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) federal pipeline safety program through fiscal year 2019 and contains a number of amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act.   The U.S. House of Representatives passed the PIPES Act last week, and the bill will now be sent to the President for his signature.

Among the more noteworthy provisions, Section 12 of the PIPES Act requires PHMSA to develop underground gas storage standards within two years and authorizes the collection of user fees from operators of these facilities.  Section 16 also provides PHMSA with significant new authority to issue industry-wide emergency orders if an unsafe condition or practice results in an imminent hazard, meaning a substantial likelihood that death, serious injury, severe personal injury, or a substantial endangerment to health, property or the environment may occur.  PHMSA may use emergency orders to impose operational restrictions, prohibitions or safety measures.  While PHMSA can issue these emergency orders without a prior hearing, the legislation provides for an expedited process of administrative and judicial review.

Stay tuned for further updates once the PIPES Act of 2016 is signed into law.