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Actions Needed To Enhance Pipeline Security

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On June 25, 2008, the Inspector General testified before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on actions taken by and needed from the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Homeland Security (DHS) to enhance pipeline security. Within DOT, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) oversees pipeline safety, while the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within DHS oversees security–related matters.

In 2006, PHMSA and TSA signed a pipeline security annex to establish clear lines of authority and responsibility over pipeline security matters. The annex is part of a Memorandum of Understanding that DOT and DHS signed in 2004 to facilitate transportation security measures. The Inspector General noted that PHMSA and TSA have made considerable progress toward fulfilling the annex provisions but stated that further actions are needed as the current situation is far from an “end state” for enhancing the security of the Nation’s pipeline system.

As required by the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006, the Office of Inspector General recently reviewed PHMSA’s and TSA’s steps toward implementing the annex. The Inspector General’s testimony focused on actions recommended as a result of that review. Specifically, the Inspector General stated that PHMSA, in collaboration with TSA, must (1) finalize the action plan for implementing the annex provisions and program elements and effectively execute the action plan, (2) amend the annex to clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of PHMSA and TSA in overseeing and enforcing security regulations for liquid natural gas operators, and (3) maximize resources for assessing pipeline operators’ security plans and guidance to ensure effective and timely execution of congressional mandates in the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.