Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, along with Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall, today announced more than $697,000 in federal funding for pipeline safety efforts in West Virginia.
“West Virginia’s booming natural gas industry relies heavily on pipelines, which means they must be safe, reliable and durable. As Commerce Committee Chairman, I’ve worked hard to make sure there is oversight of our pipeline operations to prevent accidents that could harm both our communities and our economy,” said Rockefeller.
“The importance of establishing the strongest possible safeguards against future pipeline explosions was never more apparent than after the devastating explosion in Sissonville last December. This funding is an important investment in our work to make pipelines as safe and secure as possible.”
“In West Virginia, investing in natural gas is important for job creation and economic growth, but the bottom line is that we need to make sure drilling is done safely,” Manchin said.
“We are fortunate that no one was seriously injured last year when a gas pipeline ruptured in Sissonville. This incident proved that we constantly need to be prepared and safety should always be our top priority. This funding will help ensure the pipelines are being operated safely, maintained properly and inspected regularly so that incidents like the rupture last December don’t happen again.”
“It would be pennywise but pound foolish not to invest in pipeline safety,” said Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with jurisdiction over PHMSA.
“Our State just witnessed the consequences of pipeline failure and a strong federal partnership is a good insurance policy against future failures. Constant maintenance and consistent inspections are key ingredients in keeping our families, businesses and industries, our infrastructure and communities safe.”
The funding comes from the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and was awarded to two agencies in West Virginia in the following amounts:
- $496,943 – West Virginia Public Service Commission – The Commission received this funding through PHMSA’s fiscal year 2013 Pipeline Safety Base Grant program as a reimbursement to help alleviate the cost of the State’s pipeline safety programs.
- $200,717 – West Virginia Emergency Response Commission – The Commission received this funding through PHMSA’s Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) Grant Program, which gives States assistance in performing hazardous materials response duties.
As Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senator Rockefeller is in charge of Congressional oversight of pipeline safety. Rockefeller authored legislation that was signed into law in 2011 to strengthen pipeline safety. He also held a field hearing on pipeline safety in Charleston earlier this year in response to the pipeline explosion in Sissonville, West Virginia on December 11, 2012. The Commerce Committee has held four hearings on pipeline safety in the past three years.