On Monday, the White House released a proposal for what will be the second-to-last budget of President Obama's presidency. The many specific parts of the nearly $4 trillion budget will no doubt be debated for hours on end in both houses of Congress, but analysts agree that there are provisions that Democrats and Republicans should agree upon.
The new funding plan includes a $30 million increase in funding for pipeline safety, bringing the total allocation to $175 million. It is part of a larger $500 billion infrastructure investment, which is expected to be one of the most likely areas of cross-aisle collaboration. The government money would go to both federal pipelines, which cross state lines, and those that do not. As this blog reported, the latter were recently targeted by the National Transportation Safety Board as being at risk due to insufficient oversight.
The spending increase aims to help the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to refine its safety measures as new sources of crude oil and natural gas change the energy industry's landscape. Many of these new types of oil are being transported in pipelines that were not built specifically for them, increasing the number of explosions and minor incidents.
"Too many communities across Pennsylvania have felt the impact of these terrible explosions," said Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), whose state houses part of the Marcellus Formation of natural gas. "Having more inspections and replacing our aging pipelines will make our communities safer."
Certified professionals can provide pipeline safety training to ensure that all inspections are carried out according to PHMSA specifications. Proper safety will allow the industry to continue exploring new energy sources while reducing the threat of major incidents.