H.R. 2576: To Amend Title 49, United States Code, to Modify Requirements Relating to the Availability of Pipeline Safety Regulatory Documents, and for other purposes

H.R. 2576

To Amend Title 49, United States Code, to Modify Requirements Relating to the Availability of Pipeline Safety Regulatory Documents, and for other purposes

Date
July 16, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, July 16, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 2576, to amend title 49, United States Code, to modify requirements relating to the availability of pipeline safety regulatory documents, and for other purposes. The bill was introduced on June 28, 2013 by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote.  The bill was also referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which waived consideration.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2576 amends section 60102(p), title 49, of the United States Code relating to the availability of pipeline safety regulatory documents.  Specifically, Section 60102(p) deals with the current limitation on the incorporation of documents by reference.  Incorporation by reference allows a document to become part of another separate document by referring to it and designating that it should be considered as part of the second document.  Section 60102(p) currently reads:

Beginning 1 year after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Secretary may not issue guidance or a regulation pursuant to this chapter that incorporates by reference any documents or portions thereof unless the documents or portions thereof are made available to the public, free of charge, on an Internet Web site.[1]

H.R. 2576 makes three changes to the language.  First, it extends the deadline for making standards available from 1 to 3 years which enables the industry and PHMSA to properly implement the mandate. In addition, it eliminates the phrase “guidance or”, which will decrease the number of PHMSA documents that the provision applies to.  Finally, it eliminates the phrase “on an internet Web site”, in order to protect copyright and intellectual property from being released publicly on the internet while still allowing free access by other means.

Background

H.R. 2576 was proposed to provide flexibility to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and standard development organizations to comply with a provision of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011.  The 2011 Pipeline Safety Act included a provision that require all technological standards incorporated by reference in PHMSA guidelines be available free of charge on the internet.  This provision has the potential to infringe upon the intellectual property rights of Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and would allow overseas competitors free access to intellectual property, which could hurt the income stream of SDOs.

H.R. 2576 will ensure that this provision supports broader public availability of voluntary consensus standards and related information to the general public for non-commercial purposes - consistent with existing law and regulations - while also maintaining the invaluable public-private partnership between the private sector and government agencies.

Cost

No formal estimate from the CBO is currently available.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the Conference Policy Shop at 5-5107.