Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force hears from federal pipeline oversight agency

Oct. 22, 2014

For More Information:
Brad Wurfel, 517-284-6713, wurfelb@michigan.gov
Joy Yearout, 517-373-8060, yearoutj@michigan.gov

The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force met Tuesday with officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, to gain a better understanding of the agency’s role in regulating pipelines nationwide.

Co-chaired by DEQ Director Dan Wyant and Attorney General Bill Schuette, the task force is focused on reviewing Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac as well as the state’s emergency management preparedness for spills.

PHMSA holds formal oversight over interstate gas and oil pipelines. Agency officials said they oversee more than 180,000 miles of hazardous liquids pipelines nationwide, which includes petroleum pipelines, and work to protect people and the environment from the risks of pipeline transportation. They noted PHMSA is not an emergency response agency, and it does not approve pipeline siting or monitor commodity shipments. Rather, the agency conducts inspections, provides construction oversight, investigates pipeline failures and reviews company’s response plans. To see Enbridge’s response plan for Line 5, approved by PHMSA, visit www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/ERR/Enbridge_Superior_Region.pdf.

In its presentation, agency officials emphasized the magnitude of pipeline transportation in the country compared to the capabilities of rail or truck. About 70 percent of the nation’s crude oil and refined petroleum products travel by pipeline.

Enbridge’s Line 5 has a capacity of 540,000 barrels per day, the equivalent of 688 railcars or 2,512 tanker trucks, agency officials said.

PHMSA’s full presentation is available on the task force’s website, www.michigan.gov/pipelinetaskforce. The website also includes previous presentations from the National Wildlife Federation and from Enbridge, contains information about the task force members, and offers a public comment form.

The task force will next meet during December, when it will hear from For the Love of Water, or FLOW.