Washington, D.C. - Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) from today’s hearing entitled, “Pipeline Safety: Reviewing Mandates and Examining Additional Safety Needs”:

Thank you, Chairman Lipinski.  As we begin our work to reauthorize the 2016 PIPES Act, I look forward to working with you and this subcommittee to improve pipeline safety through a balanced regulatory approach.

The United States has the largest network of energy pipelines in the world and supplies 65% of the energy we use every day.  The oil and natural gas industry supports over 10.3 million jobs and 8 percent of the total U.S. economy.  Continued industry investments will provide more high-paying jobs for a diversifying workforce.

As the world’s leading energy exporter, the United States can continue to bolster our economy and our allies’ energy security by exporting our oil and natural gas.  Just last week, I was proud to join 390 of my colleagues in passing H.R. 1616, the “European Energy Security and Diversification Act,” to facilitate the export of U.S. energy resources to Central and Eastern European countries.

Every year, more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines safely deliver large volumes of natural gas and liquid petroleum products across the United States.  A safe pipeline system is essential to relieve the burdens on other modes of our transportation network.

The United States is leading the world in production and refinement of oil and natural gas, and in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.  These emission reductions are due in large part to the increasing use of natural gas.  Increased use of natural gas in the power generation sector has helped to reduce total CO2 emissions, and cleaner, more efficient fuels lead to reduced carbon emissions.  Oil and natural gas are also essential to the production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and electric vehicles.  The industry and its stakeholder partners, including university researchers and environmental groups, continue to help develop and deploy state-of-the art technologies and practices to further reduce emissions.

Pipelines remain one of the safest and most cost-effective means to transport large quantities of our nation’s energy products, and oversight of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) safety programs is a top priority for this subcommittee in achieving our goal of zero pipeline incidents.

Pipeline safety is a collaborative effort between industry, PHMSA, and state governments.  We must continue to promote cooperation between regulators and stakeholders.  We also must ensure that our balanced approach to safety regulations fosters innovation in technology and best practices to improve safety.

The 2016 PIPES Act was bipartisan and made progress towards ensuring the safety of pipelines and the communities around them.  The 2016 PIPES Act provided regulatory certainty for our citizens, the safety community, and industry stakeholders.

Today we will hear from PHMSA about the progress to-date as well as pending actions on the mandates from both the 2011 and 2016 legislation.  While I appreciate the progress that has been made, there is still work to be done.  The 2011 law included 42 congressional mandates, of which 34 are complete.   The 2016 PIPES Act contained 19 mandates, 15 of which are complete.

I especially look forward to hearing from the industry about its safety initiatives to ensure best practices for inspections, detecting leaks, and other important safety initiatives.  In closing, I thank our witnesses for coming today to discuss the issues concerning pipeline safety and how we can continue to improve pipeline safety.