July 18, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As House Republicans bring legislation to the House Floor that would speed up the approval of pipeline projects, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) offered amendments to H.R. 2910, the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act, seeking to improve safety for communities near proposed pipeline projects and ensure environmental and safety standards are met before construction begins. In response to independent testing showing air pollutant levels higher than Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection standards near the site of the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station, Congressman Lynch filed an amendment to ensure that pipelines are not placed in communities that already face unsafe air quality levels.
“Rather than expediting pipeline projects, federal regulators ought to carefully evaluate whether a pipeline project meets proper safety and environmental standards before issuing federal approval. Local families in Weymouth, West Roxbury, and surrounding cities and towns have many questions about how recent pipeline proposals will impact public safety, public health, and the environment. By taking legislative action to improve environmental and safety standards, we can better protect our constituents from the risks posed by pipelines that are placed in densely populated neighborhoods with existing threats to public safety, such as unsafe air quality or an active blasting area,” said Congressman Lynch.
In particular, Congressman Lynch’s amendment would suspend the certificate of public convenience and necessity for project sites where certified independent air quality testing demonstrates existing violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards or existing violations of requirements relating to hazardous pollutants listed under the Clean Air Act.
In addition, Congressman Lynch filed an amendment to increase pipeline safety certification, particularly for projects where a pipeline developer has been the subject of an enforcement action by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). In November of 2016, a fatal gasoline pipeline explosion in Shelby County, Alabama killed one pipeline worker and injured five others, igniting two wildfires that burned over 30 acres of land. In April of 2016, a natural gas pipeline in Salem, Pennsylvania, operated by Spectra Energy, exploded injuring one person and damaging two homes. Congressman Lynch’s amendment requires the PHMSA Administrator to certify to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the project is compliant with existing PHMSA regulations regarding pipeline safety.
Congressman Lynch also offered an amendment to improve pipeline security by requiring FERC to consult with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prior to the issuance of federal authorization to ensure compliance with TSA security guidance and best practices regarding pipeline infrastructure security, pipeline cyber security, pipeline personnel security, and other pipeline security measures designed to ensure the public safety.