Pipeline Modernization Plan Means Safety and Jobs

Ray LaHood Speaks About Pipeline Modernization

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood speaks in Pittsburgh, April 23, 2012. (by Photo courtesy Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's Fast Lane blog

One year ago, I gathered pipeline operators together and asked each of them to take a serious look at their infrastructure and to identify those sections that need to be repaired or replaced.

I pledged that if operators stepped up and created modernization plans, then DOT would do everything in our power to help cut bureaucratic red tape to put people to work and get shovels in the ground more quickly on these important projects to make America's communities safer.

NiSource, Inc., answered that call in Pittsburgh last Friday, and they are setting an example for the entire industry by investing more than $4 billion dollars in 1,000 miles of modern diameter pipeline. This massive modernization project will take place in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, and it will promote the safe and reliable delivery of energy resources across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the U.S.

DOT will hold up our end of bargain as well. We all know how important it is to get these infrastructure projects moving so we can put Americans back on the jobsite and make our neighborhoods safer. That's why President Obama signed an executive order to fast-track crucial infrastructure through review and permitting, and that's exactly what we plan to do in these states.

Now, don’t get me wrong, at DOT we will never sacrifice safety. But we can make government work smarter, more efficiently, and faster to create jobs and help communities realize the benefits --including greater safety-- of infrastructure renewal.

In fact, by speeding up the approval process for replacing aging pipelines, we’re helping make residents of those six states safer much faster than expected.

By NiSource‘s estimate, we'll also help create 8,000 jobs more quickly. In Pennsylvania alone, NiSource will spend $400 million and create more than 1,000 jobs. And the benefits of this ambitious project will ripple across America because the 1,000 miles of new pipeline will be manufactured with steel produced right here in the United States.

I’m proud of the collaboration between NiSource and the DOT, but this is only the beginning.  I hope that this project will encourage other pipeline operators step up and replace aging pipelines. I also hope other states will follow the lead of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in passing laws that improve pipeline safety.

An America built to last starts with modern, efficient, and safe infrastructure. And that includes the network of pipelines that connects our communities with the energy they need to prosper and grow.

Ray LaHood is Secretary of the Department of Transportation
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