Sherman Applauds Passage of Gas Storage Safety Bill
Washington, DC – The House of Representatives passed the PIPES Act, legislation that will require federal regulation of natural gas storage, including the Aliso Canyon Storage facility in Porter Ranch which recently experienced the largest natural gas leak in US history. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), whose home is as close as any to the recent leak, issued the following statement:
Watch Congressman Sherman discuss the PIPES Act and the Porter Ranch gas leak on the House floor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-65fEMuMGbI
“This is a step for increased safety, and regulation of natural gas storage. After the Valley was subjected to the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history, I have been urging tough federal regulations of natural gas storage facilities to make sure this never happens again. In January, I raised this issue with both the President and the Vice President, both of whom promised to work with me in developing safety regulations this year.
“This bill is a backstop. If PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), the federal agency that regulates pipelines, doesn’t adopt regulations using its existing authority, this bill would compel them to act within two years. Existing law gives PHMSA the legal authority to adopt regulations for natural gas storage safety, but for decades they simply haven’t bothered to use that authority. My discussions with the President, the Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget lead me to believe that this agency will use its authority this year.
“But it’s not enough to rely on promises from the administration. I am pleased the House has adopted this legislation that would require PHMSA to use its existing power, and issue natural gas storage safety regulations. It is my hope that PHMSA will act immediately. I am also pleased the bill includes language that I championed allowing states like California to adopt higher standards.
“This legislation also establishes the Department of Energy’s Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Task Force and requires PHMSA to consider their recommendations when establishing the federal standards. I have been working with my California colleagues Senators Boxer and Feinstein, as well as the Department of Energy to determine how the Task Force can most efficiently determine the cause of the leak, explore potential preventative measures, assess the impact of the leak, and analyze the federal, state, and local response.”
For nearly four months, the northern Los Angeles community of Porter Ranch suffered from the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history. More than 7,000 families were displaced from their homes and forced to relocate. Schools in the area have been closed. Currently, there are no federal regulations for gas storage facilities.