Congressional funding for PHMSA must be reviewed and renewed every four years, which typically results in some legislative amendments as part of reauthorization. The last reauthorization was in 2006 (PIPES Act), thus 2010 is a reauthorization year. The first Congressional hearings on reauthorization began in the House on May 24 (notably after the Gulf spill occurred). Although Congress is focused on applying ‘lessons learned’ from the Gulf spill to the pipeline industry, even citizen watchdogs have commented that PHMSA is ‘a very different organization than the MMS’, and the pipeline industry has made significant improvements in its safety record over the past 10 years (statement of Carl Weimer, Pipeline Safety Trust, before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Cmte, May 24, 2010).
Several Congressional hearings on PSA reauthorization have been held from May through July, 2010. A final bill is expected no sooner than end of this year.