The Next Generation Pipeline Research and Development Act would improve public-private partnerships and increase Federal research, development, and demonstration related to next-generation pipeline systems and upgrades to current infrastructure.
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The United States’ pipeline network consists of nearly 2.8 million miles of pipeline – enough to wrap around the world at the equator more than 112 times. Yet, 50% of the nation’s pipeline system is more than sixty years old. With these aging pipelines operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is inevitable that without new inspection and leak detection technologies, catastrophic defects and anomalies will occur more frequently.
Currently, both the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) conduct research on different elements of pipeline safety and innovation. DOE has traditionally focused on materials, transmission and distribution technologies, real-time sensing and repair, and natural gas conversion processes. PHMSA has expertise in pipe manufacturing and installation quality control, including permitting process, employee training, and inline inspection.
This legislation seeks to invigorate the focus on improving pipeline safety and technology through innovation. A new and modern emphasis on federal research and development collaboration, as well as increased industry involvement and public-private demonstration projects, will be required to meet future energy demands and ensure the continued safe and efficient use of pipelines. To achieve this goal, this legislation:
- Establishes a demonstration initiative in which the Secretary of Energy shall stand up projects in the low- to mid-technology readiness level that best advance research undertaken by DOE and PHMSA. This will help lab-scale, basic research overcome the “valley of death” and achieve commercial deployment. This Initiative is authorized to be appropriated $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027.
- Requires DOE, DOT, and NIST to enter into a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct a joint research program. A similar MOU was established in 2004, but has not been updated or codified. This Joint Program is authorized to be appropriated $30,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027.
- Directs DOE to establish a National Pipeline Modernization Center. This Center will be a central location for industry and stakeholders to collaborate with federal agencies on pipeline research and development and enable them to commercialize new cost-effective products and procedures. This Center is authorized to be appropriated $15,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027.