The Congressional Research Service released a report last week entitled “Pipeline Safety and Security: Federal Programs,” (RL33347), which provides a concise and up-to-date look at the federal government’s activities on pipeline security. The report outlines the steps that have been taken in recent years to improve pipeline safety and security, in the wake of the incidents in Bellingham, WA in 1999 and Carlsbad, NM in 2000. It explains the way in which regulatory authority is split between DOT and DHS, pointing out the work of a little-noticed (only two Google hits) office within TSA, the Pipeline Security Program Office.
- Clarifying federal authority for pipeline security, including inspection and enforcement authority.
- Considering whether the voluntary approach implemented by TSA is effective, and if not, whether regulatory action is required.
- Looking at whether TSA has sufficient resources for pipeline security. The Senate bill S. 1052 would authorize $2m/year for pipeline security enforcement and inspection.
- Considering the need for a dedicated funding stream for pipeline security grants.
- Developing better methods for “criticality assessment” for pipelines.
- Examining the post-9/11 restrictions on public access to the National Pipeline Mapping System.
Overall, an interesting report on an issue that has received little attention recently, but is still worth watching among the broader spectrum of threats to critical infrastructure.