Pipeline Safety Expert: “Pipelines are Safe and Getting Safer”

Pipelines are safe, efficient and a critical piece of the nation’s infrastructure that connects consumers with abundant, affordable energy resources, a former official with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration told state lawmakers today. Keith Coyle, who currently chairs the MSC’s Pipeline Safety Workgroup and served on Gov. Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, confirmed during a joint Senate committee hearing that “pipelines are the safest and most reliable means of transporting the nation’s energy products.”


If you missed the hearing, read excerpts from his written statement below.

“The Pipeline Safety Workgroup provides MSC members with a valuable forum for sharing ideas and technical information and plays a key role in shaping the MSC’s policies on pipeline safety. The Pipeline Safety Workgroup also conducts training for MSC members and hosts an annual Pipeline Safety Seminar that is attended by industry experts, state and federal regulators, and other stakeholders. Having led the Pipeline Safety Workgroup for the past four years, I am proud of the contributions that the MSC has made in advancing pipeline safety in the Commonwealth.”

“As the Members of the Committees know, pipelines are a critical part of our nation’s energy infrastructure. Pipelines transport nearly all of the natural gas that American consumers use each day. … Whether carrying the gas that heats our homes or transporting the feedstock that fuels the region’s growing petrochemical industry, pipelines are important to the lives of everyday Americans.”

“Pipelines are the safest and most reliable means of transporting the nation’s energy products. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, pipelines caused fewer fatalities and injuries than other modes of transportation during the past decade. … While the industry remains focused on eliminating all incidents, the data shows that pipelines are safe—and getting safer.”

“The pipeline industry’s strong safety record is the product of several factors. According to a 2015 report from the American Gas Foundation, the industry invests about 19 billion dollars per year on pipeline safety. These investments fund critical pipeline operations, maintenance, and integrity management activities, public awareness, education, and community outreach programs, and the repair, replacement, and rehabilitation of high-risk infrastructure.”

“PHMSA’s federal pipeline safety standards are comprehensive in nature and cover pipeline design, construction, testing, operations, maintenance, and integrity management. … The Public Utility Code provides PUC with the authority to regulate the safety of pipelines that are operated by public utilities, including intrastate transmission lines and local gas distribution systems. … Many pipeline operators exceed the requirements in PHMSA’s regulations, building to a higher design standard, performing additional inspections, examinations, and testing, and conducting right-of-way patrols and other activities at a greater frequency.”