Pipeline Safety and Security: Federal Programs [Updated July 11, 2007]   [open pdf - 165KB]

"Nearly half a million miles of oil and gas transmission pipeline crisscross the United States. While an efficient and fundamentally safe means of transport, many pipelines carry hazardous materials with the potential to cause public injury and environmental damage. The nation's pipeline networks are also widespread, running alternately through remote and densely populated regions; consequently, these systems are vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attack. The 109th Congress passed the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-468) to improve pipeline safety and security practices, and to reauthorize the federal Office of Pipeline Safety. The 110th Congress is overseeing the implementation of the act and examining ongoing policy issues related to the nation's pipeline network. The Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007 (S. 184) would require federal plans for critical pipeline security and incident recovery, and would mandate pipeline security inspections and enforcement. The Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), within the Department of Transportation (DOT), is the lead federal regulator of pipeline safety. The OPS uses a variety of strategies to promote compliance with its safety regulations, including inspections, investigation of safety incidents, and maintaining a dialogue with pipeline operators. […] The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the lead federal agency for security in all modes of transportation -- including pipelines. The agency oversees industry's identification and protection of pipelines by developing security standards; implementing measures to mitigate security risk; building stakeholder relations; and monitoring compliance with security standards, requirements, and regulation. While the OPS and TSA have distinct missions, pipeline safety and security are intertwined."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33347
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