With 2012 right around the corner, we're sharing some of the top accomplishments from each of DOT's agencies in this year. Today, we look at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
At DOT, we don't just think about transportation safety on land, in the sky, or on the water. We are also focused on making sure that the pipeline network across our country operates safely and that hazardous materials are transported with the greatest care. I’m very proud of PHMSA's safety accomplishments in 2011 – we still have more work to do, but we’ve made great progress.
With PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman, examining pipeline damage in Allentown, PA
This year, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:
- Developed and implemented a Pipeline Safety Action plan. DOT raised the bar on pipeline safety in 2011 by developing and rolling out a plan that calls on pipeline operators to conduct a review of their oil and gas pipelines to identify areas of high risk and accelerate critical repair and replacement work. The plan also addressed other pipeline issues such as seam failures, risk assessments, and record keeping.
- Convened its first-ever Pipeline Emergency Response Forum. To support the critical work of America's first responders, it is important that we develop improved strategies for responding to pipeline emergencies. So PHMSA invited to DOT the men and women who get the job done, day in and day out. Their input and the input of the forum's other participants--community leaders, pipeline safety regulators, pipeline industry representatives, and members of the public--will be invaluable as PHMSA develops policies and programs to keep our emergency responders safer, and the people they serve safer.
- Eliminated a backlog of hazardous materials approvals, permits, and petitions.
By cutting through red tape, PHMSA exceeded their inspection, permitting, and outreach goals. This achievement is part of the Administration-wide customer service effort President Obama initiated earlier this year.
- Worked with Congress to pass safety legislation.
This year, the House and Senate passed a bill submitted by PHMSA that will give the agency stronger enforcement tools and increase civil penalties for pipeline operators who do not meet safety regulations.
Pipeline infrastructure is crucial to our way of life, with more than 2.5 million miles of gas and oil pipelines crisscrossing the country. And with PHMSA on the job, we're making sure the American people know that the pipelines running under and through their communities and the trucks and trains carrying hazardous materials on our roads and rail are safe.
I congratulate and thank Administrator Quarterman and all of the employees at PHMSA for their hard work, and I look forward to a successful new year.