The American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) issued the following statement on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s markup of the Pipeline Efficiency and Safety (PIPES) Act of 2023 (H.R. 6494), which reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) pipeline safety programs for the next four years and provides a framework to advance the safety of energy infrastructure across the United States.
“Safety has been a core principle of APCA since our founding, and we commend the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the safety of existing pipelines, help prevent damage to critical infrastructure, and improve excavation safety,” APCA President Roy Weaver, Weaver, LLC, Birmingham, Ala., said. “And we certainly agree with Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) that pipelines remain the safest and most economically efficient means of delivering energy resources.”
Importantly, H.R. 6494 addresses pipeline safety enhanced penalties in the Pipeline Protest section (Title 21) for “knowingly and willfully … causing a defect in or disrupting operation of pipeline infrastructure.” The civil penalty for these violations would be increased up to $2.5 million from the current penalty of up to $2 million. In addition, the criminal penalty would be placed at up to 10 years in prison.
The bill also addresses excavation damage prevention, a recurring and costly issue afflicting the pipeline construction industry. APCA endorses the proposal to strengthen damage prevention laws by encouraging and endorsing state implementation of best practices long advocated for by the excavation community. The bill's damage prevention and excavation safety language largely aligns with the recommendations made by the Infrastructure Protection Coalition’s 2021 damage prevention study, 811 Emergency, which can be found at ipcweb.org. APCA is a founding member of the coalition.
Introduced by committee, this bill will strengthen the safety of existing pipelines, help prevent damage to critical infrastructure and improve excavation safety, and support anticipated new modernized pipeline and energy distribution construction demanded by our nation’s growing energy requirements.
APCA thanks the committee’s leadership Chairman Graves, ranking member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) for their bipartisan efforts to enact pipeline safety legislation and reauthorize USDOT’s critical PHMSA programs. We urge swift passage of this legislation.
The American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) represents merit-shop construction firms, manufacturers, and suppliers who build and maintain interstate natural gas and oil pipeline systems throughout the U.S.