Safety, Jobs And Regulatory Certainty The Focus Of Pipelines Bill

Rep. Bill Shuster
Somerset Daily American

Supporting our nation’s infrastructure is critical to maintaining a strong economy, keeping the public safe, creating jobs, and spurring economic development. As a senior member of the Transportation Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, safety and job creation are my highest priorities.

I am extremely proud that the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously approved my pipeline safety bill, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. Getting this landmark legislation through Congress was a monumental accomplishment, and underscores the importance of maintaining the integrity of our pipeline infrastructure. This important legislation builds on our strong commitment to ensuring the continued safety and reliability of our nation’s pipeline system and supports the creation of American jobs.

This legislation is vitally important because it provides the regulatory certainly necessary for industry to make investments and create American jobs. Ensuring a sensible and practical regulatory approach to improving safety will encourage economic development. This is especially true here in Pennsylvania, where the development of the Marcellus Shale presents a historic opportunity for our state to reinvigorate our economy.

In crafting this bipartisan bill that gained the support of every member of the House and Senate as well as the backing of both the pipeline industry and safety advocates, we worked hard to strengthen the enforcement of current laws and to fill gaps in existing laws where necessary. We also focused on addressing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations resulting from recent pipeline incidents with balanced and reasonable responses, including addressing high-profile incidents in California, Michigan, Montana, and here in Pennsylvania.

At a pipeline safety hearing I held earlier this year outside of Philadelphia, I highlighted the importance of doing “more with less” in this time of tight federal budgets. An idea raised at that hearing became an important provision in my bill to utilize state and local government personnel as a force multiplier to supplement federal pipeline inspectors at no cost to the federal government. I worked closely with the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) in developing this language and the PUC is pushing forward to position Pennsylvania as the nation’s leader in establishing a regional pipeline safety training center with my support.

The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act will improve upon America’s already safe national pipeline infrastructure. Less than two percent of the bills introduced in the congested 112th Congress have become law, which makes passage of my legislation even more significant. I am extremely proud to have authored this major legislative accomplishment that strengthens America’s energy infrastructure, creates jobs, and reduces our dependence on foreign energy.