Over the years the Pipeline Safety Trust has let people know when the opportunity to apply for the Community Technical Assistance Grants administered by PHMSA opens up. These grants are the only funding source that has been reliably available to help community groups and local governments hire their own experts to help them understand and possibly get more involved in pipeline safety issues in their communities. It was one of the early wins the Pipeline Safety Trust had with Congress getting this program put into law and eventually funded years ago.
Normally these grants open up for applications in late January. Today we received the note below from PHMSA notifying us that Congress in their supreme wisdom pulled the funding for this grant program late last year. We have inquired as to why Congress made this decision since there could be lots of reasons, such as:
• Concern that the grant program was not functioning as Congress intended (unlikely since to our knowledge there has been no inquiries by Congress)
• Lobbying from oil and gas industry to kill the program since they don’t always like local communities sticking their noses in what some in the industry thinks is their business. (quite possible)
• General Tea Party thinking that government is bad so cut whatever you can get away with anytime you have a chance. (quite possible)
• PHMSA quietly asked for program to go away out of concerns with implementation or resources necessary to administer (unlikely and denied by PHMSA)
• The conspiracy theory of your choice.
Anyway, the Community Technical Assistance Grant program is dead for at least this year, which from our point of view is too bad. We will be pushing Congress to reinstate this ASAP. In the bill that the Senate passed in December reauthorizing PHMSA’s pipeline safety program the Community Technical Assistance Grant program was contained and authorized in that bill. The House has not yet taken up that legislation. Beyond that we also need champions in Congress that deal with the actual appropriation of money to ensure that this program gets funded in the future. If you have thoughts, ideas, or want to be notified how you can help get this program funded in the future send me a note.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, but are interested, you can see what types of projects have been funded in the past at:
Anyway, we thought you would like to know
Good morning. Please note that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113) did not appropriate funding for the Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) program. Accordingly, PHMSA will not be soliciting applications or making TAG awards in FY 2016. Future funding for the TAG program is contingent upon reauthorization of the program and an enacted appropriation providing funds. Thank you for your commitment to pipeline safety and for your work advancing pipeline safety through the TAG. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.
Senior Program Manager
Office of Pipeline Safety
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration