Department of Transportation Releases Legislative Proposal Promoting Pipeline Safety, Innovation

Joining states across the country, the Trump Administration is seeking to promote pipeline safety while cracking down on violent and illegally disruptive protests of pipeline construction projects that have become increasingly common in recent years.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, released a legislative proposal that “prioritizes safety, promotes innovation, and encourages reliable energy infrastructure in the United States.”

“The Department looks forward to working with Congress to pass a robust pipeline safety reauthorization bill that will strengthen the safety of critical energy transportation infrastructure,” Secretary Chao said in a news release.

The release details the overall goals of the legislative proposal:

The proposed legislation would reauthorize pipeline safety programs at the Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for fiscal years 2020-2023.  Among its provisions are measures that would modernize PHMSA’s incident and construction data collection, establish a voluntary safety information sharing program, encourage replacement for aged local pipeline systems, and clarify certain regulatory measures to prevent incidents from occurring on our nation’s pipeline system.

On the protest front, the proposal states:

“This provision would strengthen the existing criminal penalty measures for damaging or destroying a pipeline facility. It would specify that vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting, or inhibiting the operation of a pipeline facility are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment. It would also specify that pipeline facilities under construction are included within the scope of the damage prohibitions in addition to operational pipeline facilities.”

This would align federal law with legislative activity in multiple states, including Texas, Missouri, and South Dakota.