One year ago today, President Obama signed into law the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act (PSA). Our nation's pipelines offer the safest and most cost-effective way to transport the natural gas and and other products we need to heat our homes and power our economy, and this legislation gave our Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration the ability to make those pipelines even safer.
As PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman recently noted, "We know that domestic energy production and pipeline investments are up and will likely continue to grow. The Pipeline Safety Act gives us the tools to stay ahead of this shifting demand."
In just the first year under the Pipeline Safety Act, PHMSA initiated several rulemakings to improve the way pipeline operators manage the strength --also called the integrity-- of gas and liquid pipelines. To make the new rules even more effective, the agency also produced a thorough, multi-chapter webinar to educate the pipeline community about the latest integrity management requirements.
The law also required PHMSA to develop pipeline safety standards that require operators to install automatic or remote-controlled pipeline shut-off valves and excess flow valves. These valves can play a critical role in shutting off the flow of material and stopping leaks. In 2012 PHMSA studied those valves in preparation for issuing new standards.
To communicate to the industry and the public, PHMSA also held several meetings and webinars covering topics such as leak detection, enforcement procedures, and state damage excavation laws. And to make sure pipelines are meeting our safety standards, PHMSA has hired and trained additional federal pipeline safety inspectors, bringing the total authorized by the new law to 135 nationwide.
These measures are intended to keep our pipelines incident-free, but PHMSA has also worked hard to improve pipeline operators' response when an incident occurs.
For example, the safety agency issued a bulletin advising pipeline operators to report any event where a pipeline exceeded its Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure within 5 days. PHMSA also issued guidance to operators for providing system-specific information about their pipelines to local emergency responders so firefighters and others know what materials could be involved in a pipeline leak or other incident.
The law also puts a premium on educating the public about pipeline safety, and PHMSA has stepped up its already strong public awareness efforts. A new Public Service Announcement and a lively safety demonstration featuring first responders and a local gas utility on National 8/11 Day were just two of PHMSA's 2012 public outreach successes. And the agency's ongoing Safe Digging / Call 811 initiative was even more active in 2012.
The many items above are just a sample of what the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has done to transform the Pipeline Safety Act from words into actions. Thanks to PHMSA's effective implementation, this one-year-old law has already proven to be a terrific step forward for greater pipeline safety.
Given the tremendous safety commitment of the folks at PHMSA, I know that 2013 will bring even further safety improvements.