Press Releases

Jan 26 2013


In Wake of Sissonville Explosion, Chair of Senate Commerce Committee Holds Field Hearing to Review Federal Pipeline Safety Efforts

CHARLESTON, W.VA – Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, today called on federal regulators to quickly and efficiently implement pipeline safety reforms to avoid future accidents and keep the public out of harm’s way.

Rockefeller’s comments came at a field hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee he convened to review the current state of pipeline safety following the December 11 transmission pipeline explosion in Sissonville.

“The natural gas industry is thriving in West Virginia. And its growth is literally fueled by pipelines, which are the conduit between gas development in our region and the rest of the country,” Rockefeller said. “But we have an enormous responsibility to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep the public safe. Oversight is vitally important. We can’t afford anything less than absolute diligence.”  

Among those testifying at today’s hearing were Debbie Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); Cynthia Quarterman, Administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA); Susan Fleming, Director of Physical Structure Issues for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Jimmy Staton, Executive Vice President for NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage; and Rick Kessler, President of the board for The Pipeline Safety Trust.

Rockefeller also welcomed Sue Bonham, a resident of Sissonville, West Virginia whose home was damaged during the natural gas transmission pipeline explosion in December.

“When I took over as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I made consumer protection and public safety my key priorities,” Rockefeller said. “It’s why we’ve been very active on the safety of natural gas pipelines. But as Sissonville reminded us, we have to keep our eye on the ball. That’s what I intend to do, and today’s hearing is a big part of that effort.”

Read Senator Rockefeller’s opening statement here.

Read more about Senator Rockefeller’s efforts on pipeline safety here.