Larsen-Backed Pipeline Safety Bill Heads to President’s Desk

Jun 17, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced that a provision he has championed to improve pipeline safety is on its way to the President’s desk as part of the PIPES Act – a bill that will reauthorize the federal pipeline safety program for four years.

The amendment Larsen fought to include will renew technical assistance grants that Washington state stakeholders rely on to improve pipeline planning and development, emergency response, and information sharing.

Since 2009, Washington state has received 10 grants totaling more than $430,000. Past grant recipients include the Pipeline Safety Trust, the Association of Washington Cities, Skagit County and the Utility Contractors Association of Washington.

“By promoting safety in pipeline construction and maintenance the bipartisan PIPES Act ensures that we are making the safety of our communities – and the pipelines they utilize every day – a top priority,” said Larsen.

The PIPES Act reauthorizes technical assistance grants that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration provides to communities. Grants can be used for:

  • Improving emergency response capabilities;
  • Improving safe digging programs;
  • Developing pipeline safety information resources;
  • Implementing local land use practices that enhance pipeline safety;
  • Community and pipeline awareness campaigns; and
  • Enhancing public participation in official proceedings about pipelines.

Larsen has prioritized pipeline safety throughout his time in Congress. Following the tragic pipeline explosion in Bellingham that killed one adult and two children and dumped thousands of gallons of gasoline into Whatcom Creek, Larsen helped write the 2002 Pipeline Safety Improvement Act as well as the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011.

Larsen has also pushed to tighten the criminal liability standards for pipeline incidents. Earlier this year, he called for criminal penalties against pipeline operators whose actions were inherently reckless, citing the Bellingham tragedy as an example.

###