A Constantly Moving Process

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The authority and budget of PHMSA is reviewed every four years by Congress. The most recent review was completed in early 2012 and concluded with the passage of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. The bill requires action by PHMSA on a number of matters, including a directive to research and report back to Congress on issues that impact the pipeline industry.

There are several provisions in the legislation that have a direct impact on local communities, all of which focus on emergency response. Congress has directed PHMSA to determine the ability of pipeline operators to respond to hazards associated with a release of petroleum liquids or natural gas. PHMSA has also been instructed to promote greater awareness of the National Pipeline Mapping System to emergency responders and to have authorized PHMSA personnel perform pipeline safety and response training for state and local government personnel.

Pipeline operators are required to establish and maintain communications with local emergency responders. However, emergency responders are not required to meet with operators and sometimes do not realize the importance of familiarizing themselves with pipeline emergencies. This poses a dilemma for pipeline operators: how do you reach emergency responders and reinforce the importance of learning about pipeline safety and emergency response? Operators are learning there is no single solution. PHMSA’s inquiry into these issues will help bring greater attention to this important subject and will likely result in better ways of communicating with emergency responders.

Additional Free Resources for Emergency Responders:

Responding to Utility Emergencies on-line training
National Association of State Fire Marshals Pipeline Emergencies Book, 2nd Edition
National Emergency Number Association Pipeline Emergencies Operations Standard 56-007
On-line database of emergency response capabilities
Access available pipeline information from the web or mobile device at