Group wants more security of natural gas pipelines

Congress is being asked to provide more security for the nation’s natural gas pipelines, protecting them from physical and cyber attacks.

Lobbyists for the U.S. manufacturing and chemical companies made the request in a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin sits on the House committee.

Paul Cicio, President of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America said Congress has to do more to create mandatory security standards.

“When so much is resting on the reliability of natural gas pipelines, we cannot help but be concerned that the security requirements under the Transportation Security Administration are voluntary, not mandatory,” Cicio wrote. “Natural gas pipelines are the weak link in U.S. national energy infrastructure.”

The letter comes as the Trump administration is weighing the creation of a federal subsidy for coal and nuclear power plants on the grounds their on-site supply of fuel provides a more secure power supply. Natural gas plants, on the other hand, are reliant on a near constant supply of gas delivered via pipelines.

In building support for such an action, which has been opposed by groups as diverse as the Sierra Club and the American Petroleum Institute, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has cited the potential for pipeline disruption through terrorist attack.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which represents pipeline companies and has argued against creating a national security standard, declined to comment on the letter from IECA.

IECA describes itself as an “association of leading manufacturing companies with $1.0 trillion in annual sales, over 3,700 facilities nationwide, and with more than 1.7 million employees worldwide.” A membership list posted by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2015 listed the group’s membership as including Dow Chemical, Marathon Refining, LyondellBasell and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.