Pipeline Bill Passes In Energy & Commerce Committee With Key Provision To Hire More Pipeline Inspectors
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 5050, the Pipeline Safety Act of 2016. Included in the pipeline bill is a provision to grant direct hire authority for pipeline inspectors to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) with an emphasis on creating opportunities for women, veterans, and minorities. Shifting hiring authority from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) directly to PHMSA would streamline and expedite the hiring process for pipeline inspectors which can take months. The provision was originally introduced by Texas Congressmen Gene Green (TX-29) and Pete Olson (TX-22) as a stand-alone bill, H.R. 3823.
Green said, “In Texas, we have almost as many pipelines as we do roads, so we understand how critically important it is to update our infrastructure and ensure safe pipelines. Having robust inspections is one of the best and most efficient ways to make sure our system is running safely and smoothly. We need inspectors in the field, working closely with their industry partners to avoid emergency situations and protect the surrounding environment. This provision ensures that this executive agency has the authority it needs to hire inspectors quickly and creates opportunities for underrepresented groups.”
Olson said, “Pipeline safety is critical and relies upon an adequate supply of inspectors to accomplish inspections in a timely manner to both protect our communities and ensure timely delivery of needed energy for America and the world. I’m pleased that we had bipartisan support in our committee to expedite the hiring process to improve safety through America’s pipelines. I look forward to getting this bill through the House and Senate quickly.”
H.R. 5050 will be reconciled with similar legislation passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. A comprehensive bill is expected to pass in the House of Representatives.
Media Contact: Melissa Kelly