Passed by the Senate on September 7, 2000

Improves the Qualification & Training of Pipeline Personnel

  • The bill ensures pipeline employees have the skills to do their jobs. It also requires the periodic reexamination and testing of these employees to ensure their competency.

Improves Pipeline Inspections & Prevention Practices

  • The bill requires operators to submit pipeline integrity management plans. These plans will include: internal inspection, evaluation criteria, measures to prevent and mitigate unintended releases, and other safety-related activities.

  • States and local officials would be allowed to evaluate and recommend changes to these plans.

  • At a minimum, pipeline operators would be required to periodically assess the integrity of their pipelines.

Expands Public's Right to Know

  • The bill establishes strong public right-to-know provisions. It requires operators to make information about pipelines and their safety practices available to local officials, emergency responders, and the public, including posting information on the Internet.

  • It requires more pipeline accidents to be reported by lowering the spill reporting threshold from 2,100 gallons to 5 gallons.

Raises the Penalties for Safety Violators

  • The bill doubles current maximum civil penalties for non-compliance and lifts the caps on maximum penalties for judicial action.

States Can Expand their Safety Activities on Interstate Pipelines

  • Under current law, states can enter into agreements with the Secretary of Transportation to allow them to inspect interstate pipelines. This bill would allow those agreements to also grant states the power to "participate in special investigations involving incidents or new construction" and to "assume additional inspection or investigatory duties."

Invests in New Technology to Improve Pipeline Safety

  • The bill recognizes the need for Research and Development for new inspection devices and practices.

  • Authorizes a coordinated research program to develop materials and inspection techniques and authorizes the expenditure of up $3 million a year for such purposes.

  • Requires the Secretary of Transportation to set-up a Pipeline Integrity Technical Advisory Committee. The Committee will have an ongoing role in evaluating the progress and results of the research, development, and demonstration of a five-year program to improve pipeline integrity.

Provides Whistleblower Protection

  • The bill provides protections for those who "blow the whistle" on unsafe practices.

Requires the Office of Pipeline Safety to Make Long-Needed Improvements

  • At Senator Murray's request, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation issued a report outlining problems with the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) and recommending changes. This bill will require OPS to implement those recommendations. In addition, the bill requires OPS to respond to recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Increases Funding to Improve Pipeline Safety

  • The bill increases funding for the Office of Pipeline Safety by $13 million a year more than its current budget.

Recognizes State Citizen Advisory Committees

  • The bill allows states to create citizen advisory committees. These committees would make recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary will be required to respond to those recommendations in writing and to detail what actions, if any, will be taken to implement those recommendations.